I'm the first to admit these are the hardest months of the year for me. I love snow for Christmas. But afterwards, I find myself craving a little warmth and sunshine. I try to remind myself that winter can be a wonderful time of year, if I do it right. Here are eight ideas to help us all beat the winter blues:
Exercise. It's easy to feel sluggish when the days are short and the temperature drops. Regular exercise keeps the blood flowing and the energy up. Look at your schedule and find a time that really works for you, put it on your calendar, and stick to it. After a couple of weeks, that regular exercise will start to feel normal. Your body may even start craving it, which will keep you going all winter long.
Get outside. Yes, it's chilly, but getting involved in winter sports can make the cold more bearable, even enjoyable. If you live around snow, try skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding or sledding with your kids. Winter brings hidden gems. Make an effort to discover them and these post-holiday months will never be the same.
Consider lighting. Being around sunshine delivers needed vitamin D and just feels good. Try sitting by a window in the sun or heading outside for a few minutes of straight sunshine. You might also try full-spectrum light bulbs in your home, which are designed to be more like natural sunlight.
Plan social outings. If you stay clammed up indoors all winter, spring will be an eternity in coming. Some animals are meant to hibernate. . . but not people! Time with friends and family is good for the soul and gives us something to look forward to. Some studies even suggest those social connections help us live longer. So plan regular dates with your spouse, go to the movies with friends, or host a winter party. You’ll feel your spirits lift, and those around you will appreciate it too.
Eat healthfully. Yes, hot chocolate is one of my favorite parts of winter. And a few treats here and there are part of enjoying the good things in life. (I’m still trying to convince my husband that his 13-year, no-dessert, no-junk-food run is just plain crazy.) But letting the sugar and junk food get out of control can make anyone feel discouraged and downright sick, not to mention those unwanted pounds. Make a resolution to do your body right by finding healthy snacks (like dried fruit and nuts) and getting plenty of whole grains and vegetables in your diet. You’ll feel great and be even more grateful when sweater season is over.
Get the right amount of rest. The darkness of winter makes it easy to want to sleep in, but too much sleep can actually make you feel sluggish. Get the right amount of sleep at night (seven to nine hours for adults) and consider a short power nap during the day for a needed boost. I find that closing my eyes and meditating for five or ten minutes during the middle of the day is magic for getting me through the rest of it cheerfully.
Plan a getaway. Having a fun adventure to look forward to can work wonders and get you through the toughest months of the year. One of my favorite traditions is planning a Valentine’s date with my hubby. We love taking our kids to their grandparent’s home while we steal away for the night. Having that to look forward to in February gets me through January.
Service. It’s amazing how your own troubles can disappear when you start focusing on someone else. Look for opportunities to serve those around you, whether by making cookies for a neighbor, putting together bags of needed items for a local homeless shelter or foster home, or simply smiling at a stranger. Showing kindness to others will warm you from the inside, even when it’s freezing outdoors.