January Bliss: 7 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs! – As a mental health therapist and life coach, I see a regular increase in depression during the winter months, especially for people who live in the cold areas of the world. I want to address this here and give useful suggestions so that you DON’T have to experience a case of the winter blahs.
First off, it’s always good to understand what causes this so we can know we are experiencing something common and for an appropriate reason.
Number one: we as human beings are homo sapiens who are meant to be connected to the earth and sky. And our physiology is greatly influenced by that. We get our natural feel-good and alert to the chemical release of serotonin by the arrival of sunlight. Winter in cold climates drastically reduces sunlight hours. So much so that many people get up and go to work when it is dark, and by the time they are getting out of work, it is already dark. Not a good recipe for feeling good.
Second, January immediately follows the months of Nov/Dec, which are huge holiday months of gatherings, friends, parties, gifts, and great food. All of which are good distractions from any kind of sadness or emptiness we might be feeling before the holidays. (Exception to this can be folks who have lost a loved one during the holiday season, making it more challenging to enjoy.).
Think about this stark contrast. December: merriment, colors, cheer, gatherings and now suddenly………NOTHING. It literally can feel like you’ve had the rug pulled out from underneath you.
So let me make some suggestions of things you can do that can really make January one of your better months of the year!
1. Move Your Body
As I’ve written in several previous articles, the fastest and most powerful way to create or change one’s emotional state is to move your body. Specifically cardio movement, which can be as simple as going for a walk. Because of our needed connection with the earth and sky, walking outside is perforable. Bundle up if needed and GO. Move your arms and legs and feel the wonders of your body doing what it was DESIGNED to do!
2. Focus on Gratitude
The second most powerful is to choose to focus on gratitude. Simply think of 10 things (or more) you are truly grateful for. Personally, I combine these 2 steps and focus on gratitude AS I am walking. Look up and around you as you walk and feel your gratitude for your ability to walk, see the sky, breathe the air, and your amazing, incredible lungs, just to name a few.
3. The Cold Invigorates Your Body
Be grateful for the cold! Remember that the earth requires the cold seasons for replenishing. It also requires it to keep the insect population in check for the following spring. And best of all. Cold temps invigorate your body. Cold temperatures (and cold water) keep your skin tight, vibrant, and radiant. Spending some active time outdoors during the winter helps with increasing the blood circulation in both the face and the rest of your body. That leads to reduced inflammation and a sharper ability to focus. Being outside in the cold encourages you to move and keep moving in order to keep warm enough. What a bonus!
I have seen so much benefit of cold temps from swimming laps in cool water and walking in cold temps that it is my chosen way to start my day every day. It gets me motivated and in a positive mental/emotional state. That, in turn, makes the day go better. Personally, starting my day with these 2 things (cardio outside and gratitude), it’s my “go-to” for feeling great. And as I LOVE to feel good, I’ll gladly utilize these wonderful, free, simple, and holistic techniques.
4. Embrace the NEW
I also encourage people to bring something NEW into their lives in the winter. Perhaps a hobby you’ve always been interested in. The choices are endless. Just a few examples: learn a new language, join a book club, learn a musical instrument, or take a yoga class.
5. Connect with Others
Another suggestion, look at the amount of time you are feeling connected with others. As homo sapiens, we were designed to be social animals and we need to feel connected! Feeling isolated in the winter months definitely increases depression. Join a Meetup group. Make it a point to be in situations where you are exposed to meeting new people every month. That is one of the magical things about Meetup groups. And if you can’t find one that interests you, start one.
It’s vital this time of the year to add a connection with people into your regular weekly life. And make sure the people you are around are ADDING energy to your life, not taking it away.!
6. Light Therapy
Feel free to experiment with light therapy. There are some good ones on the market and get a good size one. (Verilux Happy Light is the one I personally know can be effective.) Increased darkness and gray days take away sun exposure, which is so essential to our feeling good. And speaking of sunlight, make sure you are getting enough good quality Vitamin D every day.
7. Seek Professional Help if Needed
Lastly, reach out to a professional mental health therapist if you are in need. Feel free to visit my website if you’d like and contact me for a free consultation. http://virginiaoman.com
I hope you use the suggestions listed here. It can greatly increase your ability to have one of your very best January’s ever. Happy Winter to you!
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