Tips to Help Ease the Winter Blues
The changing seasons have an effect on all of us, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. The energetic shift as we move between cycles is powerful, and can play havoc with our moods, our productivity and our ability to cope with stress. This is perhaps most noticeable during the winter period, when the dropping temperatures and elongated periods of darkness evoke a lethargy that dampens our sense of motivation; both for work and social commitments. It’s not uncommon to feel a dip in your mental and physical wellbeing as well as Winter takes hold – and for some this can last the full length of the season.
The tail-end of Winter can feel like a particularly difficult stage, as the refreshed enthusiasm and added glow of the ‘new year, new me’ attitude has begun to wear off and it seems like it has been Winter forever. We’ve put together some advice for helping you to see out the rest of the season in the best possible headspace.
Just as nature does when Winter descends, you too must honour your urge to hibernate and slow down. At Harmonizing, we believe that the seasons are a powerful restorative resource. If you allow your body and mind to align with these natural rhythms you can find it easier to accept the change in pace.
Putting pressure on yourself to keep up with the energy you have in lighter, warmer months will lead to feelings of anxiety, guilt and overwhelm. Slowing down and allowing yourself to rest and retreat indoors is not a sign of failure, but an exercise in self-care.
Be kind to yourself. If there are things you don’t feel able to do right now, accept that this is okay, and that they can wait. Listen instead to what your body is craving, and allow yourself as many early nights, impromptu naps and quiet evenings in as you need.
If you know there are times of the year which you find more difficult than others, whether due to difficult anniversaries, holidays or seasons, try making some plans ahead of time to ease the pressure.
- Schedule any appointments for before or after the period you find most difficult, so as not to overwhelm yourself when you are already struggling.
- Book a trip, or arrange nights with friends, to create some things to look forward to.
- Stock up on a pile of good books and films which you’ve wanted to read and watch for a while, and buy in some indulgent treats. Distracting yourself with small things you know you enjoy can help to lift your mood, even if just for short bursts.
- Put boundaries in place and take some time to fully understand what things in your life particularly drain your energy. If you know this time of year is going to require more down time and peaceful, nourishing evenings then remind yourself that it is okay to skip some nights out with friends. If you are worried about keeping up with all your responsibilities, ask friends and family if they could help lessen your load.
Creating routine introduces habit and rhythm into your daily life, which can make it feel easier to keep going. Our bodies tend to function better when our eating, sleeping and working patterns are set to a regular schedule. Setting a morning and evening routine during the week can help you to relax easier, as your body anticipates what is happening during each stage of the day.
What can you bring into your routine that brings you joy and comfort during these shorter days? Try to include as much rest and nourishment within each day as you can, and carve space for your favourite selfcare rituals to give you an added boost. For inspiration, have a look at the list we’ve put together here.
If your negative feelings are having a real impact on your life or you feel like you are unable to cope, it could be a sign of something deeper than the so-called ‘winter blues’, such as depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). The effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder are completely different for each person, but if you are suffering you might recognise some of these symptoms :
- totally lacking in energy
- not wanting to go out
- feeling tearful
- changes in your appetite
- difficulty in staying motivated
- more susceptible to colds, flus and viruses
S.A.D isn’t just feeling a bit tired or blue when the dark creeps in. It can inject real feelings of dread towards the darker months and make everyday activities feel completely overwhelming and too much to manage. There are steps you can take to make these feelings easier to live with but, as with most mental health problems, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all cure. If you are worried or unhappy, we’d advise you to seek out a medical professional to help you to understand what you are dealing with, and what methods might work best for you personally.
do your research – The more you know and understand about why and how Seasonal Affective Disorder affects you, the easier it will be to decide on the best course of action to take and to explain it to family and friends.
try using a light box – Many sufferers find using light-boxes really effective, as these help to replace the loss of sunlight which will be messing with your circadian rhythms. Light boxes are flat screens which produce full-spectrum fluorescent light, and should be used in measured doses as recommended by the manufacturers.
consider contacting a coach or therapist – Talking to someone can help you to make sense of things, to understand yourself better and to help to resolve complicated feelings or find ways to live with them. Therapy sessions will give you a safe and non-judgemental place to discuss anything which may be subconciously holding you back.
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