Like many of you, some of us at the Happy Hour have been on the struggle bus since the clocks fell back. So we decided to pool our team’s best tips for coping with the winter months and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
I’ve been leaning into seasonal and circadian rhythms more in recent years. Instead of dreading or fighting the seasons or times of days I usually struggle with, I’ve chosen to lean into their unique energies and adopt an attitude of flow. For a recovering control freak, ‘flow’ is an ongoing challenge, but accepting that I can’t change the weather is probably a good place to start!
Full disclosure, I LOVE winter, and the shorter days don’t bother me, but maybe that’s because I love the coziness of it all. (Summer and I, however, are still working on our relationship.) My best advice for those struggling with the colder, darker months would be to embrace the magic that is hygge!
I know my enthusiasm for winter puts me in the minority, so don’t just take it from me. Here are some science-backed tips to beat those winter blues…
BRIGHTEN UP YOUR DAY
One of the biggest causes of seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues is the lack of natural light, especially first thing in the morning. Starting your day with light helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, assisting with the timing of various hormonal activities in the body. If you wake up before sunrise, or if it’s a particularly gloomy day, make sure you let as much light into your space as possible, move your desk closer to a window, or turn on the lights.
Think back to those days in summer when you wanted to take a walk on your lunch break, but didn’t because it was just too hot and humid and you didn’t want to return to the office all sweaty. Now’s your chance! Wrap yourself in a cozy scarf, grab a warm cup of coffee and get your blood pumping and soak up as much daylight as possible.
MOVE YOUR BODY
It can be easy to adopt hibernation as your M.O. in winter, but staying active is a great way to keep those feel good hormones flowing. Feeling extra chilly? Hot yoga might become your new favorite winter hobby!
Shift your mindset on comfort food – it doesn’t have to be a big greasy pizza and a pint of rocky road. Broth-based soups, stews and tagines are nutrient dense, healthy and really comforting on a cold day. And just because it’s not hot outside, that doesn’t mean you can’t dehydrate – so don’t forget to drink lots of water. If you don’t enjoy cold drinks in winter, try room temperature water with some sugar-free electrolytes, hot water and lemon, or explore some new herbal teas.
Spending time with friends can lift your spirits. Plan dinners at each others’ homes, or look out for some fun workshops to inject a little variety into your social life. Shameless plug: The Happy Hour has some really great events planned for the winter months. Check them out here.
This is something I struggle with every year, so much so that when summer ends I begin to dread winter. With two kids under 5 in the house, finding indoor activities can be tough and I really try not to rely too much on the TV (but hey, I’m only human). However, all the moms with kids under two, I am here to tell you it gets better. This is the first year since having kids that I have gained some independence back because at 2 and 4 the kiddos can entertain each other more with a game, blocks, whatever.
So, here’s what I like to do to lean into the dark winter days – cook something new and eat earlier so that I’m fed before the kids go to bed. Putting on a podcast, lighting a candle that I love, and cooking up a meal, (while keeping a distant eye on the kids in the adjoining room) gives me a nice chance to wind down earlier than normal. Once the kids are asleep, I’ll tune into a book or a TV show and go to bed early. Oooh how glorious it is to go to bed early. I’m still easing into the waking up earlier part, but I’m looking forward to shifting my wake up time a little earlier to give myself a little more me-time before the chaos breaks loose.
If you’re a mom, and you’re struggling to juggle the snow days, school closures, and the 5,000 other things on your plate, know you’re not alone. Give yourself grace to let some things slide. Experiencing life through the eyes of a mom can feel lonely and overwhelming, so we’ve created 2 new Moms Groups, starting January 27th, to give you some extra support and connection with fellow moms. These groups will be meeting in-person, but you also have the option to join virtually. Save your spot here.
I’ve also totally been embracing the hygge! I usually really struggle with daylight savings, but this year I’ve been throwing myself into the holiday festivities early and welcoming the cozy with open arms. It’s been super helpful for me to wake up earlier than normal and make a production out of my breakfast and morning coffee. I always make sure to have a candle lit and some twinkly lights on, and I’ve been indulging in fun things like hot chocolate, face masks, and a new pair of slippers. I think for the first time ever, I may be enjoying the days ending sooner and the relaxation beginning earlier! It doesn’t always have to be go, go, go, and I’m finding that I am kinder to myself when it’s more socially acceptable to stay in and enjoy a good holiday movie or book.
Honestly, I wear black on the first day of fall because I am mourning the end of summer. Winter has many displeasures like dry heat, being way too cold outside and too warm inside, ice, and a general lack of things to do outside. Also, If you work late like me, by the time you get off at 7:30, it feels as though half of your work day has been in the dark. I am here to say that it is ok if you hate winter and you just survive it with dreams of warmer months. The things that get me through the winter are bonfires, facials (dry skin ughhhh), fun holiday drinks and food, and many, many get-togethers with friends. My biggest suggestion is to be more like a bird and fly south! Plan a trip somewhere warm mid-winter and plan to have your toes in the sand and a fruity bevvy in your hand! This little reset will give you the willpower to make it the rest of the way. For those of us who just gotta slog through it, celebrate on Dec. 21st (winter solstice) because it starts getting lighter from that point on!
Feel like the blues are venturing into SAD territory?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that tends to show up during the colder months. If you need to talk, our licensed therapists and certified life coaches are here for you. Click here to learn more.