4 Tips to Kick the Winter Blues
As I sit here writing this post, Ohio is in yet another winter storm advisory. So far these blistery months have dished out days of below freezing temps, lots of snow, and many delays and school closings. (Yes, the teacher in me is LOVING that aspect ;)) But although my days off work have been a welcomed changed of pace, I have noticed that my mood has begun to shift throughout the month of January.
Once my Christmas high is over, and the spirit of celebrating a snowy holiday season passes, I realize that I am just left with .... COLD. Dark, gray, and inconvenient ... cold. I can even feel my by body stiffen up and my face begin to clench just thinking about the months to come!
And even though this is true, it has me thinking -- is it really normal to go through 3 months of winter feeling down and grumpy each year? I think that answer is a resounding, NO.
I will be the first to admit that winter is not my favorite season, but this year I've decided it's time to reframe my mindset.
I can't possibly rely my happiness on factors outside of my control. After all, I am the only one in charge of my happiness. I've come to realize that I am never a victim to the circumstances around me and I always have the ability to CHOOSE the thoughts and beliefs I want to change in my life.
so, I've decided -- it's time to figure out how to kick these winter blues once and for all, and reclaim my happiness back.
Below are 4 simple tips to reframe your mindset and nourish your body so that you have can achieve your happiest winter season yet :)
Reframing your mindset
1. Live like nature
If you take some time to look at the cyclic nature of the Universe, it is clear that it has this whole "seasons thing" figured out. Everything begins to grow and bloom in the spring and becomes alive and energized during the summer. Fall brings us change and release as nature prepares for the colder days to come. From the trees to the animals -- nature understands the internal shifts that must happen during these seasonal changes.
We seem to have lost touch of what we already internally know. When the colder days arrive and life around us begins to slow down, we too, must follow in nature's footsteps.
Now, this is coming from a proclaimed always-on-the-go extrovert. It isn't easy! But, I think half of the reason we feel so down, and out of body during the winter, is because we are still trying to act in our summer mindset. We continue to race around and over extend our bodies, which is the exact opposite of what this season is trying to teach us. If we can reframe our mindset to view winter as a welcomed change of pace, and a time to slow down and move inward, I think we would all have a much happier few months.
We wouldn't feel the pressure to be our most energized and productive selves because it's not the season for those behaviors. We could learn to embrace the darker days and the chillier weather by choosing activities that coincide with the world around us. I really believe that learning to allow the stillness is what winter is all about.
For so many of us, (myself included), it is uncomfortable. Allowing stillness brings up feelings and emotions that we would rather push aside and stay busy to avoid. But I believe the Universe has gifted us winter for a reason. It provides us with time dive deeper, get cozier, and most importantly, learn to reconnect with our truest selves.
2. Search for the joy
Now that we've accepted that it is time to slow down and reconnect, we must take actionable steps to find the joy in this season. This may be easy during the holidays, but once those days have passed, many of us have a challenging time igniting that same sense of joy. So let's start brainstorming!
What is your body calling for and asking of you during this season? What would bring you the most joy in this very moment?
Listen to the answers that come to you. Now, how can you make that happen in your current situation? If you're craving movement - bundle up and go for a walk or roll out that yoga mat and hit some poses. Perhaps you're craving connection - call up a friend and get a warming cup of coffee! There are many ways to find joy within your current situation, it just takes some flexibility and a willingness to reframe your mindset.
When I was in Denver, my friend was explaining to me the energetic shift between the winters in Ohio verses Denver. The community in Colorado seems to embrace, and dare I say, even looks forward to the days of cold and snow. So, where is that shift in mindset coming from? In my opinion, I see a community that has found a reason to bundle up and ENJOY what the snow and cold has to offer. Chilly hikes, days of skiing and snowboarding ... it's all about finding gratitude in the beauty that is still so very present during this time of year. We may not have the mountains here in Ohio, but we can surely be grateful for the beauty that does exist. We just have to make a commitment to go out and find it!
supporting your body's needs
3. Get your vitamin d on!
On a physiological level, our body needs vitamin D to function properly. Many studies have shown the correlation between suppressed mood and vitamin D deficiency. And if you're a sun goddess like me, you can actually feel your body craving that sunshine. Here are some tips for getting sufficient vitamin D during the winter:
- Take a supplement! It is always a good idea to get your blood tested by your doctor so you can determine your current levels and take the appropriate amount of IUs. (1000-2000 typically recommend a day). My favorite brand is Jarrow and you can check it out here.
- Experiment with light therapy -- sitting in front of a lamp that emits 10,000 lux wide-spectrum light (a great way to start your day!)
- Sit near a window and enjoy the sunshine and warmth that streams in. Keep in mind, your body can't always absorb vitamin D through a window, but it sure does feel nice ;)
- Bundle up and get out in nature. Experience what little sunshine is out there and soak it ALL in.
4. treat your body with love
We've all heard that moving your body fights of depression and it's true! It may be difficult to get up and moving during this time of year, but it is so crucial to your overall happiness and well-being. Moving your body doesn't mean that you have to over-exert yourself either -- experiment with movement that feels good and nourishes you. Whether that means some light yoga or hitting the gym for a run on the treadmill, it will make all the difference.
In addition, feeding your body with proper nutrition will keep your hormones and mood happy and balanced. Listen to what your body is craving this time of year. Warm and hearty soups, chilis, or root vegetables are great choices.
Be aware of the connection between food cravings and your moods. When you're feeling a bit blue, you tend to crave carbs and sugar for a quick boost in energy and a surge in dopamine (our feel good chemical). Although this may give you a rush of happiness, it is not sustainable, and your body is not designed to thrive on this source of energy. Soon after you indulge your blood sugar will begin to dip, causing your energy to decrease, and your mood to fluctuate yet again. Sugar messes with our neurtransmitters, which in turn, affects mood stability. So when you're reaching for those sweet comfort foods, you may want to think again.
I always advocate for a high (healthy) fat, medium protein, and fiber-rich diet to keep you feeling your best and to optimize your energy. Filling your body with deliciously whole and nutrient-dense food is the best tactic for easing the winter blues and keeping your neurotransmitters firing the way the should! :)
When we work towards shifting our mindset and caring for our bodies with proper movement and nutrition, we can begin to turn those winter blues around. It will take time to build these new healthy habits, (especially the mental ones!!), but I promise you it is possible. We are going to do this together, right?! Sending out all of the positive vibes for a cozy and HAPPY winter, loves. We got this.