Unless you live in a tropical paradise like Jamaica, you’re probably wearing a sweater and looking out the window at barren trees, snow-covered grounds and grey skies.
Yes, old man winter is visiting many places on the globe right now and that can bring on the winter blahs.
What are winter blahs? It’s that condition where you wake up in the morning and want to sink right back under the covers. You turn down that invite to meet friends because it’s easier to stay home. Focusing on tasks is harder and you’re craving sugary foods. If you were a grizzly bear you would find the nearest tree trunk and settle in for a long, cozy nap!
If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has expanded the dialog on the impact of weather on our emotional and physical well being.
Not everyone that experiences the winter blahs has SAD. But, if you are feeling less lively due to the weather, there are some ways to get more pep in your step.
Diet, light therapy, and fun activities can clear the mental and physical fog that causes sluggishness during these colder months. Here are some changes you can make to cheer up and feel good when you’re feeling… blah.
Skip The Snooze Foods
Now that it’s below freezing outside, are you craving chocolate ice cream? Feel like you could disappear into a bag of potato chips, forever?
There’s a reason for these food cravings.. Besides the fact that ice cream and potato chips are sublime in any season. You’ve been self-medicating, without even realizing it:
“Those with SAD eat more sugar because carbohydrate-rich foods cause blood sugar levels to spike, which raises blood insulin levels. When this happens, the amino acid tryptophan travels up to our brains, where it is converted to serotonin — a hormone that makes us feel happy.”
Sound Consumer November 2012 | by Nick Rose, PCC Nutrition Educator
The problem with sugary foods is that they’ll jazz you up and then… the inevitable crash. Add weight gain and the fact that sugar just sucks in general and those chocolate chip cookies start to look a lot less appealing. Instead of sugary foods, try banana smoothies and berries and dark chocolate (yes! dark chocolate is good for the blahs!). Popcorn, pretzels, and biscotti are also good snacks to keep your energy levels up and running.
Learn Something New
Why do so many great bands come from Seattle and Minneapolis?
Because if you’re trapped in snow or constant rain, you end up staying inside playing guitar for hours on end. The terrible weather produced lots of great bands out of these cities.
Since you’re chilling in your crib for the next few months, why not make the most of it?
Learn a new skill online. Read a book that you’ve wanted to read for a while. Focus on things you’ve wanted to do and keep your mind active. Too many of us go into couch potato mode and binge watch Netflix. If winter becomes a time of learning and creativity for you, you may find your associations with winter taking on a more positive spin. And you might be able to express that in another language, also.
Let The Sun Shine In
You are going to see less of the sun for the next few months. So when it’s out, let it shine in your windows!
This is the season when the sun is not the demonic force that must be blocked with SPF 1000. Those golden rays streaming through the window are bringing in solar good cheer. Embrace sunlight during these months and keep blinds and curtains open whenever possible.
Keep your house well lit during winter, too. Light is important since there’s so much less of it during the winter months. If you don’t have enough light coming into the house and it’s seriously bumming you out, consider a light lamp to deliver some faux sunshine in your digs.
Bust A Move
It’s so easy to sink under that pile of covers but we’re humans, not bears, so we don’t get to hibernate.
Make your bed every morning so you won’t be tempted to take extended winter naps. This is the part of the blog post where you think I’m going to do tell you to go outside and learn Alpine skiing, right? Nope. It’s below freezing out, remember? So let’s be realistic.
YouTube has a video of every form of dance ever created. Best of all, it’s free! Get down every day in the comfort of your very own living room. The point is to keep yourself active. If you don’t feel like taking on the snow and slush, you can stay active indoors.
Playlists, Podcasts, and Audiobooks
When was the last time you updated your music? There’s plenty of Internet radio stations that offer great work playlists for free. A new playlist can completely change your mindset and get your energy level charged.
Warning: Podcasts are addicting. From world history to missing people to folklore, podcasts stimulate your mind as well as entertain. Comedy podcasts are a great way to boost your spirits, too.
Audible’s new slogan is “listening is the new reading”, which is better than reading nothing at all. If you’re not in the mood to read a book, audiobooks are a handy substitute. Listen to the unauthorized trashy biography of a celebrity or a self-help book on how to attract more prosperity.
By the time spring rolls around, I will have psychic powers, the ability to see auras and know the secrets of celebrity plastic surgery.
No, it’s not great literature but it’s still “reading”. Sort of.
Winter can drain our emotional and physical reserves. Less light and cold weather can sap our energy and motivation. The suggestions above are coping methods that can help change your outlook and keep your mood upbeat. If all else fails, there’s always a vacation in Jamaica!