Let's Beat the Winter Blues
Updated: Jan 28
How do you feel about winter? There was once a time when I would have real anxiety over the waning of daylight. I would watch the clock in grim anticipation of sunset happening earlier and earlier. I felt like I was being robbed of time. Over recent years, I’ve come to feel differently about winter. I’ve learned to adapt my personal rhythms to the seasons and embrace the present moment. We have 24 hours in a day with which to be present. Thankfully, that never changes...
I have some ideas for beating the winter blues that have helped me over the years, but I’d also like to hear what has helped you. Please share your insights in the comments below. Here are my thoughts:
Waking up as I would in the summer months. In the summertime, birds greet the dawn and it’s easy to wake, my senses filled with anticipation of the day to come. In winter, it’s easy to just stay in my warm, cozy bed. The absence of nature and people sounds and the quickening light beckoning me forth is truly difficult for someone like me who comes alive with the promises a bustling dawn brings.
I wake up naturally about 5:00 a.m. in the summer, so I set an alarm at 4:45 a.m. and keep waking up at that same time throughout the year. I give myself a sleep-in day every once in a while, but I make sure it doesn’t become a habit.
I like to begin preparation of my morning tea before I tuck in for the night. It helps to know that all I have to do in the morning is press “start.” This is less about saving time and more about making it easier for my sleepy brain to accept the prospect of getting out of bed.
Heating the bathroom. I try to make it a habit to turn the heater on in my bathroom when I roll out of bed to make my morning tea. By the time I’m finished sipping tea, the bathroom is nice and toasty warm, which makes winter showering a more pleasant experience.
Hydrate. I try to remember to drink a glass of water before drinking my tea. I’m terrible about keeping hydrated at work, so I try to make up for it first thing in the morning.
Stretch. A five minute yoga morning routine can help change your mindset for the day. Try this! If your floors are too cold for a comfortable yoga sesh, throw your mat down in your heated bathroom and stretch in the warmth before getting in the shower.
Assuming that you’re working or parenting or otherwise occupied during the day, let’s skip mid-day routines and talk about evening routines.
Unless it’s raining, my goal is to get outside as early in the evening as possible, even if the sun has already gone down. If you don’t live in a walkable neighborhood, or if you truly hate the cold, maybe you could drive over to a park or community center. My local, city-owned recreation center has an indoor walking track that is free to the public. A shopping mall could also be a good place to walk. Walking / jogging costs nothing. It’s easy and an instant mood booster, but it has to become a routine in order for you to reap the full benefits. When I first began a daily walking routine, I hated it, but I persevered and now I’m dabbling in running. My brain craves the endorphins I get from exercising my body, but if I only went outside on ideal temperature / weather days, I’d never make it out of the house. I know it seems counterintuitive to leave your cozy couch in order to boost your mood, but it works, and your brain will eventually catch on to the dopamine, endorphin cocktail reward that exercise brings.
Remember, this isn’t about getting fit, it’s about beating the blues, but fitness is a perk!
Eating a healthy dinner. Dinner can be something as easy as premade salad and a rotisserie chicken. Unless it's a special occasion, I’m careful not to load up on carbs and sweets (this includes alcoholic beverages), which is so easy to do in winter. Clean and wholesome is the goal. In the long-term, eating well feels good!
Bedtime between eight and ten. Personally, this is harder for me in the summer than in the winter. In the winter, I could honestly go to bed by 5:00 p.m. most days, but I don’t. Too much sleep on a daily basis can trigger my winter blues. Just like my wake-up routine, I try to stick to a decent bedtime routine.
That’s it! Simple, free advice. You didn’t even encounter a single advertisement during this reading experience. I hope this post found you well, my friend. Springtime is just a hop and a skip away and these dark and chilly days won’t last!
Please, if you are feeling more than the seasonal blues: depression, anxiety, or overwhelm, I hope you will consider seeing a medical or mental healthcare provider.