As a teenager, and then well into my late twenties, I didn’t give any thought to the winter months and the brutal cold, lack of consistent sunshine, or the large amount of time spent indoors. However, now in my mid thirties, I have a deep hatred for the late November through mid-March timeframe. A neurotransmitter must turn on when you reach the age of 34 or so that tells your brain, “the winter sucks, go find a warm place.” Escaping to Florida or any place near the equator during the winter months is looking more and more appealing to me with each passing year. Nevertheless, one shouldn’t panic as there are some practical steps everyone can take to feel a bit better each and every day; here are five tips that I try to utilize on a daily basis:
Go for a run, a long walk, or book a quick hour (during non peak times) at your local indoor tennis facility. You’d be amazed what exercise does for your brain and, in general, your outlook and psychological state.
2. Change Your Routine
It seems easier to get into a routine during the winter month because of the amount of time spent indoors and everyday tasks like getting up, making breakfast and coffee, leaving for work, driving back from work, figuring out what to do for dinner, etc. all seem amplified during the November – early March timeframe. Try and break up your routine during the cold weather months (change your office hours if possible, go to sleep a bit earlier, switch from coffee to tea, change your hair style, etc. – you’re looking for any type of change).
3. Watch Your Diet, but Have Fun with Food
It’s really easy to gain weight during the winter months given lower levels of exercise, cravings for fatty and carb-heavy foods, and, again, the lack of exposure to sunny conditions and warm weather. Try experimenting with different types of food with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables of the season (oranges, pears, broccoli, spinach, winter squash). Watch your meat intake during the winter months and try and focus on eating fresh fish and poultry. A glass of good wine and some dark chocolate will help, as well.
Spending time with friends and family is a great pick me up in any season, but it’s especially important to maintain social connections during the winter. Isolating yourself indoors can be real easy when it’s 15 degrees outside, but make an effort to visit your family, go out for a coffee with friends, and maybe even organize a dinner party on Saturday night. Fight the urge to be alone!
5. Read (and Listen to Music) and Turn Off the TV
Reading is critical 365 days a week, but keeping your brain active during the winter months can help you feel stimulated and positive without spending a ton of money on a Caribbean vacation, spa treatment, or an expensive dinner out. I especially like reading fiction during the winter months because there’s something wonderful about escaping with a good story when all you see outside is frozen ice and snow. Listening to music can also help, so fire up your iTunes collection and play something that makes you feel good (repeat as necessary).
Do you have tips that you use to fight winter depression?
Good advice! Especially about exercise, and socializing, and reading, and turning off the TV. (I notice we have similar tastes). There are many, many ways to cultivate happiness without spending much money. Flying south is expensive both financially and to the climate (because it creates so many carbon emissions).
By the way, I have put you on my blogroll.
Happy President’s Day.