Summer is over and the crinkling of autumn leaves is underfoot. Where I live, we are already experiencing what seems like multiple seasons in a day, and we’ll go from the intense heat of a summer day to the chill of rain in a matter of hours. There are lots of great things about winter, but more often than not my mood goes downhill midyear. The skies are overcast and cloudy, Daylight Savings causes our days to be shorter, and I’m trying to figure out if I should stick out the cold and rug up, or turn on the heating.
Lots of us struggle in the winter months, in fact there is an illness called Seasonal Affective Disorder which alters our mood with the change in season. Whether you live with this or not, winter can really play with our emotions and sense of wellness. As you prepare for the cold and anticipate your mood becoming more fragile, here are 7 steps that will help you survive, and thrive, through the winter blues.
1. Plan Ahead
It sounds simple, but if you have nothing to look forward to you’ll start dragging your feet and life can become lethargic. Make a note of all the significant occasions coming up on your calendar and remind yourself of them on the ‘blah’ days. In our house, June is birthday month, so setting up a family outing is a climax for us in this time. You might set aside a weekend away, organise a babysitter for the kids and go on a movie night, or countdown the days until a book or movie you are anticipating is released.
2. Embrace the chill
The cold of winter is inevitable, so instead of dreading it enjoy all it has to offer. Bring out the jumpers and the blankets, keep your cupboards stocked with popcorn, tea and warm apple cider, and decorate the house in warm colours and candles. On the nights the rain is pouring outside, you will have everything set up for a cosy evening in with the family.
3. Prepare your movie collection
When you’re stuck inside with nothing to do and your Facebook feed hasn’t been updated in the last minute, what do you do? Why watch a movie of course! Take out the DVD’s you haven’t watched in ages and reminisce, have a marathon (I recommend Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter), or rent/buy the latest flicks and watch them from the comfort of your own home. It’s okay if you don’t have a DVD collection; borrow some movies from a friend, rent them out (even a weekly will do) or hop on to Netflix and get lost in the endless possibilities. There will be movies for every member of the family, and this will surly make the time pass by.
4. Adjust your exercise habits
It is hard to wake up early when it is cold out. And when it gets dark before dinner, it’s even more difficult to exercise outside. Embrace the fact that exercising in the winter months is going to be uncomfortable, and look for alternatives. This may mean getting over the cold and just doing it; a snug jumper and a great playlist will help with this. You might adjust your schedule so you go to the gym or take a walk on your lunch break, exercise with a family member or friend to stay motivated, or do an activity like yoga or Pilates in the warmth of your home. Be creative and stick to a weekly exercise goal to keep your body, and your mind, sharp over the season.
5. Watch your diet
Winter is great because the food gets heavier, it tastes better and you feel like you have permission to eat in order to warm up. But remember this time last year when you thought the same thing, only to feel like a blob as we entered summer? We don’t want that again. Indulge this winter, but do it in moderation so your physical health and your self-esteem is at a high capacity. Look for great tasting food and winter treats that include fruit and veg, and balance out the days you over indulge with some exercise and clean eating. Your diet dramatically impacts your overall wellbeing, so be kind to your body over the season and you’ll feel much better.
6. Make time for you
Over winter the house is constantly full. Your partner is hungry, the kids are running around demanding a fun new activity, and the relatives who have come to visit are stuck in your living room because it’s raining outside. What do you do? In all this, make time for you. Because everyone is in closer proximity over the season, you will naturally feel the weight of their needs and their presence, especially if you are an introvert and need your own space. Keeping this in mind, schedule time for you. Tell everyone you are unavailable for an hour and shut the door. Meditate, practice Mindfulness or read a book. Space won’t naturally come to you over this period, so it is essential you make it for yourself.
7. Get creative
There will be times outside activities are near impossible with the weather, so get creative and think of some fun things to do in the house. Pull out some board games, reintroduce family dinners once a week, or start a puzzle. You can still have fun and bond with one another in side. Perhaps even have one night a week that is ‘technology free’ so you and the family can spend quality time together without distractions.