Guest post from Mystie Winckler
Depending on where you are, the winter weather can really throw off your equilibrium. Most Januaries and Februaries in my home town, we can go for weeks with cloud cover, never seeing the sky, and never even receiving any rain or snow – just a thick layer of cloud. I find it easy to slip into crummy feelings, negative self-talk, and general crud, especially if our family gets a winter cold on top of it. And, of course, all of this comes right after the gung-ho January fresh start and new hope. The blahs follow hard on.
Here are 5 strategies that have helped me get through the February blahs without sinking too low.
1. Fresh Air
Even if it’s cold or gray, fresh air still helps me clear my head. It’s hard to get ready for that first step out, but even if you’re just heading out to your car or to get the mail, pause and take several deep breaths out-of-doors. It really does help!
2. Lots of Water
I know my physical well-being hinges quite a bit on how much water I consume. If I don’t get adequate water, I get headaches or even indigestion. A tall glass of water first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and woven into as many of the transition times during the day as I can manage, helps keep my head clear and my body running.
3. Extra Vitamin D and B-complex
Ever since I started adding in an extra vitamin D dose and a sublingual B-complex, I’ve noticed my mood does not dip during the gray days like it used to. It helps the most if I remember to add in that D as soon as it begins to be overcast. If it’s that time of the month or I otherwise find my mood faltering or my ability to handle everyday stress declining, then I add a 5HTP supplement in the morning and find it helps significantly, especially after the third day.
Of course, before you add any supplements you should do your own research and consult your doctor, but I’ve found these three to be an essential part of making it through the winter blues-free.
4. Light Therapy
In the summer, I like to take a morning walk outside and also work in short bursts in my backyard vegetable garden. I get lots of sun, but in safe amounts, that way and my body and mind loves the light (and the natural vitamin D). Once the clouds cover over the sun, my energy levels start tanking. However, I have been able to counteract that with a “happy light.” I use it for at least 30 minutes every morning, reading my Bible and planning my day in front of it first thing, and I am amazed at the difference in my energy levels on the days I do so versus the days I don’t.
Well I begin to feel crummy, I lose my sense of humor and start a negativity rut that can be hard to break out of. Finding a way to laugh, to take myself less seriously, it can bounce me up out of that rut like nothing else. Even simply smiling if I can’t manage to laugh is beneficial, as Gretchen Rubin develops in The Happiness Project:
Facial expressions don’t merely reflect emotions, they also influence emotions. In “facial feedback,” studies show, the mere act of smiling makes people happier — even when they smile mechanically, as I’m doing, or when they’re asked not to “smile” but rather to contract specific facial muscles. Random smiling is an example of my resolution to Act the way I want to feel: while people suppose that feelings inspire actions, in fact, actions also inspire feelings.
Three of these five strategies are free and require nothing you don’t already have: a door, running water, and a voice. That doesn’t make it easy, but it’s still possible and certainly worth the effort. Taking that first step is usually the hardest part, especially if you’re already feeling low. But you start small and just take that first step, then it will be easier to take another and another, and soon you will be surprised about how far you’ve come.
How do YOU beat the winter blues??
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