The holidays are over, spring is months away, and all you feel like doing is sitting around in your pj’s, watching TV, and eating leftover peppermint bark. Welcome to the winter blues.
We can’t make the days go faster, but we can offer some ways to fight the seasonal sag in your spirits. Here are some tips to help improve your outlook.
5 ways to say goodbye to the winter blues
Reset your body clock
Winter means fewer hours of daylight, which can upset your body clock and disrupt sleep (which, in turn, can contribute to depression). If you’re feeling tired during times of the day when you’re usually alert, you’re probably being affected. To help get your clock back on track, make sure to get at least 20 minutes of sunlight a day or buy a light box that simulates daylight. On days when you don’t need to set an alarm, allow yourself to wake naturally. Being better rested will boost your mood and help prevent you from nodding off behind the wheel.
It’s tempting to stay home and hibernate through the winter, but you’re missing out on a key component of cheer. Social interaction (the face-to-face kind) is one of the best ways to fight depression. Put a couple of social activities on your calendar each week and make sure to stick to your plans.
Winter is filled with built-in reasons not to exercise: it’s dark, it’s cold, it might be raining or snowing. Resist these excuses. Research has shown a very strong connection between exercise and mood, and you could start to feel the benefits in as little as 5 minutes. Make regular exercise a habit, and when you’re tempted to blow it off, remind yourself how good it makes you feel. If you can switch to an activity that takes advantage of the winter weather like skiing or snowshoeing, all the better, but even a brisk walk or a workout DVD at home will do the trick.
Treat yourself right
A bit of pampering can make you feel better by raising levels of mood-lifting hormones like serotonin and dopamine. According to a recent study, coffee can lower the risk of depression, so go ahead and indulge in a second cup. A nibble of dark chocolate will release your endorphins (natural feel-good chemicals). Adding a cinnamon stick to your tea can increase your alertness. Or treat yourself to a massage, which boosts serotonin while decreasing levels of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol. And if you’ve been waiting to buy a new car, now’s the time to go for it — low showroom traffic during the winter means you can often get a great deal, and that’s bound to make you happy.
It may be January outside, but you can make it May inside your head. Start thinking about your springtime gardening plans — maybe this is the year to plant that heirloom vegetable or put in a deck. Check out a garden show to get the ideas blossoming (late winter is prime time for these events). If you don’t have a garden, or a green thumb, buy a bouquet of colorful flowers for your desk (studies show fresh flowers reduce anxiety). And why not start making plans for your spring or summer vacation? It’s hard to be depressed by winter when you’re looking at pictures of seaside resorts or scenic campsites.
If you end up tackling that home-improvement project, buying a new car, or going on that awesome summer road trip, you’ll want to make sure your homeowners and auto coverage is up to date. Get started with a quote today.