5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Anyone who tells you they don’t feel a bit more crap than usual in January is either lying, or is an alien from the planet Zog (you want to watch them). Trust me. The post-Christmas slump (when your body finally holds you accountable for going entirely off-piste where its wellbeing was concerned for the entire month of December), coupled with plummeting temperatures and a severe lack of sunlight leads to a collective form of exhaustion tinged with malaise – a nagging but non-specific feeling of ‘what now?’ We try to shake it off and kick start the year with enthusiastic resolutions like: “I must eat less!” “I must exercise more!” “I must work harder!” “I must take up that hobby!” Ad Nauseam. But by the end of the month those who started dry January are tearing out their eyeballs and those who didn’t are checking into rehab.

Those of us who live in places that experience prolonged spells of cold and dark each year employ various coping strategies to get through them with our sanity intact. Some choose to avoid it altogether by booking a one way ticket to Australia (and who can blame them?) But for the majority this isn’t a feasible option, so we stock up on Vitamin D tablets and sun lamps (well, those of us that can be arsed do – can’t say I’m one of those people), book holidays to warmer climes to titillate our ailing imaginations (guilty) and let every nanosecond that the sun succeeds in elbowing its way through the thick nimbostratus clouds be reason for unbridled celebration (after all, it is nearly spring, sort of). And for the rest of the time we pull our woolly hats down over our ears, slip our chilly fingers into gloves and leave the house each morning, in the dark, with grim determination etched across our faces.

But there is hope. In the wealth of personal experience I’ve gleaned through the endurance of numerous winters, I am now in a position to share with you a handful of things that really can alleviate the symptoms of this gloomy time of year:

  1. Read a good book – by which I mean a book you enjoy so much it’s like having a love affair; you want to be with it every moment of the day, and can’t stop thinking about it even when you are apart.
  2. Have a lot of baths – soaking in hot water with scented bubbles really does melt your worries away. The deeper the bath and the longer you spend in it the better.
  3. Do guided meditations every day when you wake up – I’ve recently discovered these ones from the Chopra Centre in California, and I find it helps a lot to take a few minutes after waking to focus on breathing in the context of which ever topic you have chosen.
  4. Keep a daily morning journal – as advised by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. I’ve struggled with this a lot over the past couple of years because I often tell myself I’m too exhausted to write as soon as I wake up. But after a hiatus of a few months I have today started again, because I’ve noticed the difference in my stress and creativity levels since it last tailed off.
  5. Live life more mindfully – this is one I struggle with on a daily basis. There are always so many distractions that it’s often hard to create space to observe and appreciate the minutiae of life. Last year I did the #100HappyDays challenge which involved taking pictures each day for 100 days of something that made me happy. And you know what? I found I was being a lot more mindful – always looking around for something beautiful, striking or inspirational. That’s why I’ve decided to start my own #MindfulnessMonth – every day in February I will document, by way of image, blog or both, something that I have taken the time to stop and appreciate.

Those are my ways of coping with the winter blues. Good luck finding yours.

winter-blues

Eight Secrets to Beating the Winter Blues

1. Have friends in far flung places – It might seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes speaking to friends who live in warmer climes conjures up feelings akin to actually being there (plus it’s good to keep in touch should you find yourself with spare holiday to use up before the end of the financial year..)

2. Make homemade soup – It may not have a reputation as being the most exciting type of food, but homemade soup that is bursting to the brim with healthy vegetables is the best body, mind and soul food there is, except, that is, for…..

3. Eat chocolate (in all its glorious forms, but especially Dairy Milk Dime Bar Crunch and dark chocolate Liebniz biscuits) like it’s going out of fashion – Scientists the world over agree that chocolate makes us happy. Not only that, dark chocolate is even good for us. I rest my case, your honour.

4. Exercise regularly – yes it’s a royal pain in the backside having to go for a run when you’d rather be in the pub tucking into a roast and some mulled wine, but you know you’ll feel better once those endorphins have kicked in (not to mention less guilty when you do eventually get to the pub…)

5. Wear slipper socks  – There’s nothing nicer than getting in from a long day at the office, kicking off your shoes and transferring your tootsies into a nice toasty pair of slipper socks before you settle onto the sofa for the evening (hot water bottle and hot chocolate optional extras).

6. Have a massage – In the winter time our skin takes a bashing from the cold wind and plummeting temperatures, so why not stimulate it with some warming hands and essential oils? With all the cheap deals floating around on sites like Groupon these days, it’s a justifiable indulgence…

7. Buy some Radox ‘Uplifting’ pink grapefruit and basil shower gel – Once you’ve tried it your morning showers will never be the same again. Trust me.

8. Plan a January get away – The best way to cope with January is, well, to not be here for most of it. So why not book a break somewhere hot to ride out the most miserable month of the year? It’s not like anyone’s doing any work in the office anyway…