Hands up who finds these winter months tough? My hand is firmly in the air as I’m sure are many of yours. I find it so hard to pick myself up out of the grump I seem to slip into once Christmas is over and so this winter, I’ve been trying to think of ways to cheer myself up a bit. As it turns out, I’m already feeling a bit more chipper and I thought I would share some of these ideas with you in case you are feeling low*. So, here are 10 ways that may help kick the winter blues:
1. Make sure you have plenty to look forward to.
Whether it be a day at the spa, a night in with friends or watching a film with someone you love, make sure you plan in things you love to do so you are never far from your next pick-me-up. And it’s around this time of year I always start thinking about booking a summer holiday too so if that’s in your budget, now is probably a great time to start your research.
2. Get out of the house.
I know it’s hard when the weather is bad and sometimes cosying up at home is just what you need during the winter but you can get too much of a good thing! And often, getting some fresh air can be just what you need to shift a headache or clear the cobwebs. Walking our dog is something which has to be done every day and it can be a real pain but actually, it does force us to get out and I’ve never once got home and thought, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’. If you don’t have a dog, ask a friend if you can walk theirs – I’ll bet there aren’t many dog owners that would turn down that offer!!
3. Take a day off.
I don’t know about you but with work, sports, volunteering, housework, family commitments and hobbies, a day off comes around about as often as a blue moon! How amazing would it be to clear your diary, book the day off, find someone to run the kids around for the day, shut the phone off and really, honestly, take a day off? Well, if ever there was a time to indulge your need for some quiet time, winter has to be it doesn’t it? Curl up in a chair with a blanket and some tea and read a book, have a long, hot bath or binge watch that series on Netflix you’ve been meaning to catch up with for years. Get dinner delivered and forbid yourself to do any housework. I think that would definitely leave me feeling a bit more relaxed and happy don’t you?
4. Connect with other people
I recently saw a TED talk (my sis shared a snippet of it on FB and I went on to watch the whole thing) which claimed that research into the longevity of people’s lives showed that the strongest predictor of how long a person will live was not exercise, diet or financial wealth but the level of social interaction a person has with others. How amazing is that? The biggest influencing factor over life expectancy is the level to which you connect with other people. Just goes to show how much we should value our friends and families – and don’t put off that dinner party or night out – now you have the perfect excuse!!
5. Don’t punish yourself.
Winter is hard enough isn’t it? Why make it EVEN worse by forcing yourself to do miserable things you don’t do during the rest of the year?! Our bodies weren’t designed to fight against these dark mornings so forcing yourself to get out of bed and into the office is punishment enough!! Maybe consider doing something fun to boost your mood rather than punishing yourself and save dry January until March – it might make the winter just that little bit easier?!
Did you know that recent studies have claimed that singing, especially as part of a group, can boost cognitive stimulation, mental health, enjoyment and transcendence as well as enhancing your mood and creating a sense of group identity? Apparently, when you sing, you experience a rush of hormones – endorphins and oxytocin – which can help combat depression and anxiety and it can even help boost your physical health too. I sing with a choir and I can vouch for all of this! There is nothing like singing with a group of other people when, after months of practise, a piece of music finally comes together. If you are interested in joining a choir, try searching here or just google ‘find me a choir,’ and see what comes up. If you’re local, give me a shout, I can recommend a great one!! 😉
7. Do something physical.
Now, I know I just said you shouldn’t punish yourself but finding something new that you really enjoy is not that hard. If you love to dance, find a class and start it now. If it’s competitive sports that get you going, look into your local club and see if you can join up. Ask a few friends if they would like to walk (or run!) with you a couple of times a week – walking with a friend is so much more fun than doing it by yourself on a dark rainy evening! It could be anything – you just have to find the thing that you enjoy so that it doesn’t feel like a chore.
8. Give yourself permission to rest.
This is one I really need to practise! When you are feeling exhausted, do you ever allow yourself to just stop and rest? Or even have a little lie down? I have never done this, even when my children were tiny and never slept! I always felt there was too much to do and if I’m honest, the fear of just dropping off only to be woken again used to stop me – I actually developed quite an anxiety about that when my children were younger – it used to affect my sleep at night too. However, I think giving yourself the green light to stop and rest when you really need to (and when you have the opportunity, which, let’s face it, won’t happen often!) during these winter months is probably the healthy thing to do. They say that sleep deprivation is one of the greatest threats to our health and yet we continue to ignore our bodies’ signals to stop and rest. Give yourself permission this winter – you might wake up in a good mood!
9. Get away for a weekend.
This is one we usually try to do. After all the craziness of Christmas, we often go into the new year feeling pretty exhausted and I always find that the children are returning to school more tired than they were when they broke up! January and February are a perfect time to plan a little break if you can. The coast is my favourite at this time of year, there is something so calming about being near the sea when it’s all angry and dramatic. Even if you can’t get away for a whole weekend, perhaps you could take a day trip to the coast or explore somewhere new? A change of scenery can do wonders for the mood!
10. Achieve something.
Got a project you’ve been meaning to do for ages? Well, winter isn’t a bad time to get on that! You could decorate a room, clear out the garage, make those photobooks you’ve been meaning to get to, clear out your email inbox, save your pictures to an external hard drive or online photo storage facility, reorganise your DVD collection, go through your wardrobe and clear out the things you never wear. There is nothing more sure to lift your mood than finally completing a project you’ve been putting off forever and winter is the perfect time to tackle it.
Sending you all my love this winter time. I hope some of this may help you if you are feeling down and hey, it’s nearly February! Spring is just around the corner….
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*Please note that these tips are simply suggestions and I do not have a medical background. If you are feeling very low or suffering from depression, please visit your GP.