Sunday, January 27, 2019

Conquering the Winter Blues

I try to stray from being overly dramatic about common, everyday things. But, here I am on the tail end of January proclaiming daily "This cold weather is killing my soul and I am either burrowing myself into a pit of warm blankets and not coming out until May or I am moving to Hawaii right now, what's it going to be Chicago?!"  (Still working on that dramatic thing.) Now, of course I never actually act on either one of these threats, as I am quickly reminded that I have bills to pay, people to see, and these brutal winter months here in the mid west will soon pass and summer is indeed on its way.

What a battle this season can be. Year after year, I find myself suddenly lacking all motivation, the creativity seems to be ripped off like a sudden band aid pull, and my energy reaches a low that I can compare to a long speech that is only fueled by a slow, crawling drawl. I seem to have trouble feeling like my warm, bubbly self - always during these brutally chilly months just after the new year.

I'd like to say that I am making this year different. Though I can't claim that one hundred percent, I can honestly share that I am proactively trying to beat this year's winter blues. Never easy, but I am finding it to be worth it.

My fellow cold weather despisers, here are some practices I am trying to incorporate into the remaining days of winter. And to those that are reading this from anywhere with a temperature above 50 degrees, you may close your browser, or continue reading and send some warm thoughts and prayers to any of your shivering pals.

Let's conquer the winter blues together.

  • Open the blinds
Sunshine is a secret weapon! And it is a secret because it is incredibly hard to find during these long months. However even the smallest glimmer of sunlight can completely shift your day. We have heard it all over and over, all of the positive health benefits that the sun brings us - it holds mood boosting power to fight off the very common Seasonal Affective Disorder that many of us have, sometimes without even knowing. That giant star in the sky can also improve sleep, relieve stress and offer immense healing on our precious bodies. 

Open the blinds, literally, in your apartment, dorm room, office, even restaurant. Just having some natural light break through your previous dark space could lift that mood that was feeling mighty low. 
  • Set new goals and habits
Hands in the air if you've already broken your New Years Resolution - now wave them like you just don't care! Let's get back on them, tackle them to the ground. These soul sucking months actually can be the perfect chance to create new habits. Implementing new routine and goals into our lives requires focus. By hitting the gym more, cooking new recipes, learning a new hobby, whatever your resolutions may be you are forcing your mind to focus on many other things rather than focusing on how cold and down you feel. I have discovered that I would rather look back at these long months and see all that I accomplished, rather than how painful they were as I watched them pass by.

  • Warm up your heart
Those that have shared a Chicago winter with me, know what a persistent bundler I am. My motto is if I can be recognized out on the street, I am not bundled enough. I like to be warm, outside and inside. Stay warm, and keep your heart warm as well. Fill it up with quality conversations with those you love, blissful books that can take you away, or your favorite comedic movies. Paint, write, run (on a treadmill) and fill up your heart with things that bring you joy. These are all things you can do inside a warm, cozy home. Hanging out with your friends doesn't even have to mean going out - I have really perfected my wine and cheese night hosting skills this season.

  • Accentuate the positive
This has become my motto for the year. I came across it while reading many articles on Betty White's birthday a couple weeks back. The 97 year old actress shared her secret to a long life "Accentuate the positive." Just because the temperature outside is in the negative degrees, does not mean that our attitude has to be negative. We still have blessings and beauty surrounding us even when the weather is bitter. When I catch myself angry at complete strangers on my commute to work, or mad at Al Roker every morning as he tells me what's happening in my neck of the woods, I try my darndest to accentuate one positive thing about my current situation. (ex: I have a warm cup of coffee in my hand, my favorite podcast released a new episode today, I have immensely wonderful friends and family in my life, I have a warm and safe apartment to come home to...)  Even the smallest recognition of gratitude can change the way we see the rest of the day. 

If you are feeling those winter blues crushing you slowly, do not feel alone. We are all over this world and we are here for you. Let's bundle up together and make these cold months different than the last. It is a season that could reap tremendous growth if we allow it.

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