A guide on how to make it through the season
There’s a lot to love about winter. Snow. Warm drinks. Cozy clothes. But this season can also bring bouts of sadness and frustration. And the pandemic and quarantine will compound these difficult feelings. Our homes, which used to be a sanctuary, may drive us stir crazy, just because we may be spending the majority of our time there now.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression, is characterized by a negative dip in mood as the seasons change. Generally, those who suffer from SAD start to feel down in the dumps around the same time each year. You can feel fatigued, moody, and want to withdraw from friends and family.
SAD effects about 6.8 percent of Americans, but you don’t have to be diagnosed to feel down during the colder months of the year. It’s very common to feel bummed out during the darker days, though it may not reach full-blown depression.
If you’re starting to feel glum or irritable, try incorporating new mindfulness exercises into your routine. These ideas will help you root yourself in the moment and increase your mind/body connection.
- Try different temperatures: Playing with temperatures is a great way to remain in the moment. Make yourself a cup of tea or hot cocoa, and when you can hold the cup, concentrate on the warmth in your hands. Take a sip and enjoy the warmth in your mouth. You can also bundle up for a walk outside and concentrate on the feel of crisp air on your face and the way the sunlight is particularly pleasant when it breaks through the clouds and chilly air.
- Experiment with smells: A great way to liven up your living space is to play around with smells. Buy a scented candle or bring home a bundle of flowers, the fragrance will hit you as you walk through your home and serve as a reminder to be in the moment. Using different smells also provides a new experience for your mind and senses.
- Move as much as you can: When you’re down in the dumps and the weather is frightful, it can be hard to convince yourself to get outside. But try as hard as you can to go outside once or twice a day. You can walk around the block or run to grab coffee. And if you can’t get outdoors, make sure to move while you’re inside. Stretch. Walk up and down the hall. Do a couple of sit ups. Have a dance party with the kids or the dog. Try to move around for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Sing your lungs out: Play your favorite song and completely jam out. Sing at the top of your lungs and dance. Connect with your body and your breath as you move through the song. This sounds silly but it’s a great way to get your endorphins going and release negative emotions.
- Create a vision board: Most of us had to put our plans on hold in 2020, and now face a few months of monotonous, cold, grey weather. A great way to get your creative juices going and increase your happiness is creating a vision board. Find images or pictures that inspire you. It could be about your next vacation, a new job, or a remodel of your home. Your board could be online or physical, but keep it somewhere you can visit it often to get a dose of happy feelings.
- Have a date night with yourself: Plan an evening of self-care for yourself. Order food from your favorite restaurant. Ask your partner to watch the kids and plan a Zoom with your friends. Crack open that guilty pleasure book you’ve had on your nightstand or just go to bed early. During your date night, really be in the moment. Try not to let your worries about tomorrow or anxieties about the season invade your thoughts. Enjoy what you are doing!
- Visualize your favorite place: This exercise will help you find inner peace and calm. Find a quiet place and take a seat. Take a few deep breaths and close your eyes. Relax and try to clear your mind of any thoughts. If anything comes up, just gently let it float away. Now, after you’ve settled in, picture your favorite place in the world. It could be your childhood home, a ski resort, or a tropical beach. Imagine how it smells and what it sounds like. Imagine the people you would run into and how at peace you feel. Take several long, deep breaths and hold this vision as long as you’d like. When you’re done, slowly open your eyes and sit up. You should feel calm and relaxed.
- Awaken your inner child: This one may sound odd but stick with us. Once a day, allow yourself to see the world as a child. Lie down on the floor and look at your furniture from this new perspective. When you go to the grocery store, stop to look at all the flowers—take in the colors and shapes. Really look. Listen to a new genre of music. Try a show you would normally pass up. The idea is to get yourself out of your habits and typical way of viewing the world.
We hope these tips help make the long winter months more bearable. Remember to be kind to yourself. We’re all going through a challenging time and it’s normal to feel grumpier than usual.
In addition to putting these tips into practice, join us for an online meditation session! Check out the schedule here and we hope to see you soon!