“Nothing in nature blooms all year long. Trust the pace of Winter…She Knows Best”
Feeling a little too much pressure to smash goals, be on and amazing, have your whole year planned out and become your best self in just the first few weeks of the year? Holy expectation, Batman! Seriously, remove that insane pressure. Sometimes it’s okay if the only thing you accomplish in a day is time to BREATHE! Especially in the winter months, which metaphorically represent the season of reflection, recovery and rest. In fact, everything in life has a Winter phase. It’s a time between finishing and starting over again and we need space to preserve, gather wisdom and restore.
Today is “Blue Monday” – what some psychologists mark the most depressing day of the year. The theory is that it’s a few weeks past the holidays, debt from over-spending comes to light, gatherings with loved ones come to a halt, the twinkly, uplifting vibes of the season wind down, there’s less to look forward to in the short term with the next holiday far off and more cold in the forecast (for us Northern Hemisphere folks), and well it’s dark in the mornings and early evenings making it tough to hop out of bed or stay energized past dinner time. Whatever the reason, it’s likely most of us feel a bit funky this time of year. I know I do. But because I anticipate this pattern each year, I’ve found ways to combat it to avoid staying in that blah mentality for too long.
**This is not a replacement for proper support if you feel your depressive symptoms are deeper than a case of Winter blues and you should absolutely seek the help of a trusted medical professional in this instance.**
Here Are 7 Ways To Beat the Winter Blahs:
Get Outside & Get Moving!
I know, the cold snaps of late make this one a bit of a turn off, but even a short period outdoors lifts the spirits and invigorates the soul. Add in a bit of exercise to get the endorphin rush going and it’s double do-good. Some of our favourite ways to enjoy our Canadian Winters can be found here. If it’s major brrr outside and way too frigid for the little ones, a good ole’ impromptu dance party indoors always lifts our spirits around here.
Every January I get the urge to purge. Not only because the house becomes over-run with new stuff from Christmas, but because something about clearing clutter feels so dang good. In fact, there’s a link between the clutter in your surroundings and mental well-being. Check out my room-by-room guide to declutter your home. Seriously, it makes such a difference in mindset and each year I do this I realize that it’s not more organization skills I need more of, it’s less stuff. I heard a reflection lately along the lines of “we’re binging on things that leave us starving for what brings real contentment”. Wise words and food for thought.
3. Get Your Dose of Vitamin D
With sunshine at it’s lowest point this time of year, getting Vit D in our bods is tough. I make Vitamin D drops a morning ritual for our crew this time of year. If that’s not appealing to you, standing near a window when the sun is out and letting the warmth shine on your face does wonders. Apparently once you see the bright red glowing light behind your eyes you’ve activated the release of serotonin – our brain’s happy chemical.
4. Get Warm
I’m sure this is no surprise, but the feeling of warmth ignites a feel-good, relaxed response in our bodies. Some studies suggest it makes us feel more socially connected too. Sit fireside, embrace in a long-lasting hug with loved ones, snuggle under a heavy throw or heated blanket or just savour the feeling of holding a warm cup of whatever fuels your soul are simple ways to literally fill your cup. Having a warm bath with lavender Epsom salts or essential oils does the trick too. And you already know what an advocate I am for mom time outs and making time for my mindfulness practice to manage the mother-load of this season of life. You can read about some of the ways that help me get grounded HERE
5. Find Joy in the Moment
We’re so busy keeping up with routines and schedules it’s easy to forget to just slow down, look around and appreciate the beauty around us. Being mindful of our surroundings and stopping for just 5 minutes each day to notice the simple things (the way the snow sits and glistens on the trees, the colour of the sky and clouds, the fullness of the moon) improves our mindset. One of my favourite things to do on a blah day is go for a drive, look for scenery that uplifts me and get out to take photos of the family. Gratitude for life’s simple pleasures truly is the catalyst for an attitude shift.
I took “The Science of Well-Being” course by Dr. Laurie Santos in one of the lowest points in my life – just after the loss of my father. It’s more than another syllabus, it’s a wake-up call about what truly brings lasting contentment (*hint – it’s not found scrolling our phones, nor what society prioritizes*). The course is FREE, and she now offers it to teens as well. No surprise, GRATITUDE, time off social media, and mindfulness are BIG mood regulators.
6. Plan Something To Look Forward To
Okay, I’m the first to admit I’m not much of a “planner”. “Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans” (John Lennon) is one of the truest statements of all. I’ve experienced enough life “surprises” to know we’re never fully in control of the things that unfold for us. But having something to look forward to is absolutely worth arranging. Novelty said to be essential to our well-being. Whether an impromptu coffee date with a girlfriend, reinstating monthly date nights with your partner, planning a family vacation, having a party for no reason other than to get together with loved ones, will give you something positive to focus on and keep your mind in forward-thinking (instead of stuck in the mud) motion.
7. Stay Inspired
When we’re inspired, we’re in a state of joy. Keep your eyes wide open to things that uplift you, pursue anything that lifts the corners of your mouth and makes you feel good from the inside out. Whether it’s pouring yourself into a creative outlet (writing, photography, crafting, painting, etc.), starting an exciting project or trying something new, it will take you out of a blah frame of mind and put you in a joyful, FLOW state. No pressure and TRUST the pull and the push – whatever comes, let it come. Whatever goes, let it go. Inspiration should give a feeling of lightness.
I hope you find some of these useful. Whatever “Blue Monday” means to you, I hope it does nothing more than make you aware of what helps you trek through these heavier seasons of life. What are some of the ways you combat the Winter blahs?
Quotes to Beat The Winter Woes
Closing off with some inspirational quotes to carry us all through this heavy time of year.
“Whatever makes you feel the sunshine from the inside out, chase that” ~ Gemma Troy
“Always believe something wonderful is about to happen” ~ Brigitte Nicole
“Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you” ~ Maori Proverb
“Believe you can and you’re half way there” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
More Resources for Winter Well-Being
If you found these winter well-being strategies beneficial, these family resources may be of interest also:
Our Favourite Winter Escapes for Families
Family Resources for Uncertain Times: A Mindful Approach – including ways to connect, move, get creative and find digital discipline together
15 Outdoor Activities to Enjoy as a Family This Winter
Unlock Your Family’s Love Language
Why You Should Make a Family Vision Board
Love & light,
Barbara Di Mambro says
Winter can take many turns. Like you said getting outside and embracing the winter is not good for health but brings activities. For those grieving a loved one it is such a vulnerable time as well. So doing things like watching family wedding videos can bring some joy too. Or putting a pair of knitting needles in my hands helps to take the thoughts from my head and into my hands. Wonderful posts with so many meaningful ideas for life.
Barbara Di Mambro says
I meant to say not just good for health but brings activities.