A lack of sun from shorter days can lead to shifts in body and brain chemistry. Add on holiday stress and seasonal colds, and your energy just may dwindle, bringing on the dreaded “winter blues.” Annick Barker, LCSW-C, of Metta Integrative Wellness Center offers ways to avoid feeling down in the dumps this winter.
NAME THE FEELING
The winter blues are not a character flaw, they’re a set of feelings that come and go, Barker explains. Noticing those feelings with curiosity rather than judgment and giving it a name helps to recognize that. Pro Tip: Put it on paper! Journaling can help you feel less fused with feeling blue.
FIND THE LIGHT
Get outside during the day as much as you can, she advises. Make a rule for yourself: “When the sun is out, I go out.” And stay out for as long as you can. Pro Tip: If you can swing it, splurge on a long weekend in a sunny place.
TAKE IT EASY
It’s important to give yourself permission to put away the to-do list and just rest, Barker says. When you start to worry about wasting time, reassure yourself that you’ll be back at it tomorrow. Pro Tip: Not feeling up to doing much? Try the bare minimum: let the kids watch a movie while you take a long bath with a book.
DON’T HESITATE TO ASK
Barker stresses to note the difference between the common “winter blues” and something more serious. If you’re often feeling down, or it’s disturbing your daily life, then it may be time to check in with a doctor or therapist. Pro Tip: Simply talking to a professional can be an effective prevention tool.
KEEP IN CHECK
Exercise, diet, and sleep are the trifecta of improving mood stability, Barker notes. Take care of your body. When your body is deprived of these, your brain chemistry can suffer. Pro Tip: Get seven to nine hours of sleep, 30 minutes of movement, and stock up with fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains.
While it’s important to recognize that you may have less energy, it’s also important to stay connected to the people and things that matter to you, she encourages. Pro Tip: A great way to wake up your sleepy brain is to learn something new, especially if it involves creativity and using your hands or body.