You started off the New Year with lofty goals and boundless enthusiasm, but come February you may find your inspiration lacking. Whether you live in the milder areas of the West Coast or you’re buried under a foot of snow after a crazy wind storm, the winter blahs can make you want to hibernate. Scientifically, winter is known to cause mild cases of decreased mood or, in some individuals, Seasonal Affective Disorder.
People with the winter blues often have less energy and a bigger appetite. They may experience symptoms including fatigue, an increased desire to be alone, a greater need for sleep, and trouble concentrating during this season. At Healing Path Counselling Services, we try to address these symptoms and develop strategies for coping. It is possible to remedy your low mood and lack of motivation by listening to your body (mentally and physically) getting outside when possible, and exercising. Here are some tips to help you in navigating the season.
Listen to Your Body
When daylight hours decrease, the pineal gland amps up its production of melatonin. This is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. Instead of sticking to your schedule year-round, listen to your body. When you’re tired, go to sleep.
Winter weather can make it difficult to get outside for your daily run or walk, and this can lead to feelings of frustration or “grumpiness”. If you can’t get outside, go to the gym, take a yoga class, or exercise in your home with a workout video. Exercise is a natural way to release positive chemicals like neurotransmitters and endorphins, that scientifically help lift your mood and energy.
Get Some Sunshine
Take a hint from your cat. Lying in a window with the sun beaming in can trick your body into thinking that it’s summer. Not everyone has the means to head South for the winter. This can cause a deficiency in vitamin D which you primarily get by exposing your bare skin to sunlight. If you’re Vitamin D deficient (you can find out with a simple blood test), a supplement or a change in diet could help. Make an appointment with your physician so you can talk to your primary health care provider.
Embrace the Fun Parts of Winter
Think about what you like in the winter. Maybe it’s a cozy fire, a cup of hot chocolate, curling up with a good book and slipper socks or a day on the ski slopes. Anything that reminds you that this time of year can be joyous and fun will help you to flourish. Create a calendar of events to look forward to. If you are social, plan a party. If you enjoy cooking, try a gourmet recipe of seasonal foods.
Learn Something New
Having a new goal or renewed sense of purpose increases happiness. Choose something that will help you become a better version of you. Set small attainable goals with built-in rewards to keep you learning and growing.
At Healing Path Counselling Services, we remind our clients that your thoughts will often become your reality. Try changing how you think about winter. It is the preface to spring which is a season symbolic of new beginnings. Therefore, view winter as an opportunity for renewal, planning, and healing.
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