Tips for a Healthier and Happier Winter from Darby
As the lock-downs intensify just in time for winter it is easy stare down the next few months and feel down in the dumps. As a person who is well acquainted with the winter blues, I would like to share what has helped me over the years. (This is of course is not medical advice!) I am trying my best to employ these four techniques through out my week to help maintain and improve my mental health. But beyond this, the most important thing is to have patience. Don't get down on yourself, we are not going to nail it every time.
1. Getting my rest:
I find the winter blues quite sneaky. For me it comes in the form of exhaustion. I can be tired all the time and never get enough sleep. I try to combat the tiredness by having 2 evenings a week where I get into my bed extra early. Often, I will do a bit of work or answer emails. (I know this is not the best sleep hygiene and I need to work on this). However, I can be warm, cozy and it's easy for me to drift off.
2. Making Social Connections:
When the blues hit, I tend to shy away from social engagements or reaching out to my friends. I just feel too tired and not motivated to connect with people. We know humans need connection when we are feeling down. That is why especially during the pandemic it is important for me to push through and have a chat with a friend.
It helps to have an excuse to see people to get me moving too. For the past few years, I have been able to do this through sports like skiing or tennis. I really enjoy the physical aspect, and the social components dovetail nicely. This has helped me in several ways. I block off the time for the activity. If it is in my calendar, it is more likely that I will do it. People are depending on me to go, and I don’t want to let them down. Also, I know I will enjoy myself once I get there!
Of course since most sports are now cancelled this idea of scheduling an activity lends itself nicely to part 3.
3. Get Outside
I need to get outside. There is something that makes me feel better when I have been in the fresh air. It's as easy as taking a short walk each day! It helps that I have a Covid puppy that is just so much more pleasant if she walks every day too.
Walking can drastically improve your mood and make the cold winter days brighter and happier! Studies have shown that it also helps boost energy, improve focus and increase creativity. Often, I try to get a few friends (no more than 5!) or family members to come with me. But it's not just the fresh air, it's the sunshine too. Getting that Vitamin D boost by having the sun on your face can do wonders for mood.
Last, but not least…exercise. Does anyone else have trouble getting moving in the winter? Ugh! It can be so hard. It's dark when you wake up, it's dark when you're finished working. I know I feel better after a workout but wow is it hard to get going. My top tips are: Put it in your calendar. Start a routine (ie: every Wednesday morning I get on the stationary bike, or do a body-weight workout). Do it with a friend (or a family member).
I keep reminding myself to just take one day at a time. It will get easier. The sun will bring the warmth of spring again. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Looking forward to a better 2021!
Stay safe and wear a mask,