The holidays can be a magical time full of happiness and good cheer! But sometimes, the stress, chaos, and shorter days of winter can bring on some seasonal blues. Here are some tips to stay focused on the important things and maximize your potential for good mental health and wellness all season long.
The Christmas Blues That Linger
Does Christmas make you sad? Are you confused about why Christmas makes you sad? You’re not alone. Whether it’s painful memories, loss of a loved one, loneliness, or financial hardship, there are so many reasons that Christmas can be a source of pain for so many individuals. If that’s the case for you, try not to stuff the pain into a drawer to deal with later. Instead, allow yourself to understand the root of your emotion, acknowledge it, and brainstorm ways you can move on so you can enjoy the season.
The Hoopla of Holiday Shopping
With more time indoors and fewer feelings of control, sometimes spending money is a coping mechanism we use to get a quick mood-boosting hit. We all love a great Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale, as it can provide great opportunities to get some great gifts for loved ones. It can also be a wonderful way to finish buying your presents early so you can focus on the holidays.
But remember- even though shopping can help you check off your Christmas list, for some people, it can create an inauthentic sense of security that will quickly take its toll on their bank accounts. Some steps you can take to prevent gifts from being a burden this Christmas: create a budget and stick to it, look for sales and coupons, and shop early so you can enjoy the holidays stress-free. Once you’ve checked off your list, relax and enjoy the magic of the season.
Create and Follow Through With Short-Term Goals
Does the attic need to be cleared out again or the files sorted? A stormy winter day is a perfect time. Or you can set up New Year’s Resolutions or do a 30-Day Challenge.
No matter if you want to start a new habit or quit an old one, declare November, December, January, or February as your month to break old habits. Having a fresh set of doable goals to accomplish, especially past January, is a great way to set yourself up for success for the rest of the year. Be kind to yourself. If you break your goal, don’t give it up entirely. Figure out why you didn’t reach it, evaluate whether it needs adjusting and keep going.
Find Ways to Stay Active
Although it’s chilly, with the right gear, you can still venture out and discover nature as a family. It may seem difficult to get started, but exercise releases positive endorphins, which help you deal with stress. Go Geocaching or hiking! Enjoy the snow with skiing and snowboarding, ice-skating, building a snowman, or having a snowball fight! The important thing is that you stay active and keep your body moving. If you want to bring the fitness indoors, try a HIIT workout, fitness program, or an app!
Tap Into Your Crafty Side to Avoid the Winter Blues
Outside, the weather is brisk, the kids are asleep, and you’re social distancing, so that means no guest or nights out. So how about beating the winter blues by getting creative? With the help of the internet, you can now easily teach yourself how to knit, crochet, or sew – and make a few little holiday surprises for your loved ones. Learn how to paint, pick up an instrument, or perfect a skill. Having confidence in your abilities while having fun is a great way to boost your mood and keep your mind occupied.
The sewing machine is also coming back into fashion. This year, why not knit new socks or gloves for your kids? If you’re not a knitter or crocheter, it may be worth learning a new skill (believe me, it’s an activity that keeps your hands busy, helps you unwind, and makes you feel productive). Of course, you can also tackle a big project like redesigning a room. Or maybe you can have an afternoon of crafts together with your children, where you can prepare presents for the grandparents.
Feed Your Body and Soul to Beat the Winter Blues
Another reason to look forward to the colder months– delicious comfort food that warms our hearts and bellies. That’s why feel-good dishes such as casseroles, hearty vegetables, carbohydrates, and soups are all on the menu!
While comfort food can be a quick fix as a mood booster, eating too much comfort food over time can also take a toll on your health. Ultimately, creating consistent patterns of healthier, balanced choices will help battle winter blues by boosting your body’s doses of healthy vitamins and minerals. Don’t be afraid to indulge every once in a while, though, especially around the holidays.
Try moderate alcohol intake, as it can be easy to become dependant on its effects, especially if you’re dealing with chronic mood issues. Ultimately, alcohol abuse will only lead to more problems with dependency and depression and detrimental health effects. Instead, try regularly ending the evening with a fancy mocktail or a hot cup of sleepytime tea, and don’t forget to stay hydrated with lots and lots of water!
Treat Yo’ Self and Beat the Winter Blues
Winter also means it’s time to step up your self-care. Treat yourself to a DIY home spa day, complete with bath bombs, nail treatments, and face masks. Add some essential oils or bath salts to your bathwater, and turn on some relaxing music.
Pay special attention to your skin. Due to the dry heating air, many of us have to struggle with itching and brittle hands. Even if your skin issues aren’t that intense, developing a regular skincare routine can be a great way to start and end your day. Invest in rich but natural care to give your skin what it needs during the harsh winter months.
Find the Right Sleep Schedule
Do you find yourself getting sleepier earlier? I know I do. As soon as the sun goes down, I’m asking when it’s acceptable to go to sleep. One of the ways our bodies are affected by the winter is by changing light patterns. Our circadian rhythms, which regulate our body clocks, are maintained by light exposure. Use tools like melatonin, alarm clocks, healthy eating, and exercise to boost your energy levels, get a good night’s rest, and stave off poor decisions made in a sleepy state. And while you think that late afternoon hot cup of coffee may warm your soul, it’s probably just going to keep you up way later than necessary.
With shorter hours, colder temperatures, and less sunlight, it can be difficult to get all the Vitamin D your body needs. Fortunately, modern technology can help with that. Sun lamps are the latest in tech advancements that provide LED, UV-Free, full-spectrum light for effective light therapy. I also like to use my light for putting on makeup after the sun goes down!
Winter Blues, S.A.D., or Depression?
Do you have the feeling the issue is more serious than just winter blues? You may be experiencing a mood disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). Talk to your physician or a psychiatrist about your sadness and lethargy, which may be SAD symptoms. Also, ask friends and family for help and support.
You may also be experiencing mood changes due to other factors like stress, anxiety, hormonal imbalances (like a lack of serotonin), many other potential issues. If your symptoms become serious and you begin to notice intense depressive symptoms like loss of appetite, an inability to normally function with your daily activities, or hopelessness, contact a mental health professional immediately. If you experience suicidal thoughts desire to self-harm, contact the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You may be a good candidate for anti-depressants, counseling, or therapy.
The Winter Blues: Find a Support System
Whether your blues tend to linger around Christmas or get stuck in the post-holiday doldrums, be sure to check in with yourself and your emotions. Give yourself every fighting chance of maintaining both mental and physical wellness. That means generally maintaining a routine of healthier habits while allowing yourself grace to indulge every once in a while. Most importantly, know that you’re not alone. Reach out to others and ask for help. Choose someone who you know can be positive and support you.
You’ve got this. The warmer days are coming. Until then, be kind to yourself!