Alright people, it’s 2018 and it’s time to be honest with each other—Seasonal Affective Disorder happens to the best of us. Whether it’s extra lethargy or fully blown depression, I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to lay in bed all day and eat all the bread. Especially once the holidays are over (read: constant obligatory distractions and excuse to eat cookies for lunch) it’s easy to go into hibernation mode and write off society until the sky brightens up. In all honesty, combine the struggle that the holidays can bring with the lack of sunlight this time of year, and it can seem like a miracle to even make it to January. Don’t get me wrong—I love our brief break from Georgia’s basically-year-round-summer, but driving to and from work in the dark kind of sucks.
Feeling proactive can sometimes be half the battle, so I made this list with the goal of having handy, simple solutions, should I find myself feeling down in the dumps for no good reason.
1. Get your vitamin D
I’m staring out with this one because I strongly believe in the power of the sun…which is partially a joke. This point is based in science, so it’s less of a belief and more of a cold, hard fact. Vitamin D is one of your best mood boosters, and the sun is the best place to get it. If you’re stuck inside during daylight hours or live somewhere the sun don’t shine, try adding more vitamin-D-rich foods like fish into your diet. And if all else fails, get yourself some vitamins (better yet, vitamin gummies!)
2. Meet an old friend for coffee
Here’s the logic: it’s dark, it’s cold, and you’re watching Parks and Rec (again) in your pajamas. Ain’t no way you’re getting out of bed—but wait! You made plans with that friend you haven’t seen in years. You can’t cancel on that friend, because who knows when you’ll see him/her again! And bonus—you get to feel nostalgic and laugh about all the great memories you forgot you had with this lovely friend. This gets you out of the house and reconnects you with a long-lost human. Double win.
3. Eat something fresh
Better yet, eat something green. After the multitudes of cookies and casseroles (and did I mention cookies?) from the holidays, my body starts craving something a little more vitamin-rich. While the summertime is known for fresh greens and berries, the winter season boasts some pretty good produce of it’s own, like squash and beets! And bonus points if you choose something green and leafy, since these foods are generally pretty high in folate, another known fighter of depression. If you have a hard time with produce in the winter (be it higher prices…or motivating yourself to grocery shop that regularly, no judgment), you can opt for frozen veggies! Frozen vegetables tend to be easier on the wallet and also frozen at peak freshness, sealing in all that extra goodness.
4. Do yoga… or something that relaxes you
I pulled a muscle in my back almost a year ago now, and doing yoga really helped me get back to normal afterwards. I am by no means a yogi and don’t even keep up with it regularly, but it’s a great way to physically relax your body. I usually will search for yoga videos on youtube, and can easily find a video that’s tailored to exactly what I’m looking for as well as my experience level, which is super beginner. If you’re not into yoga or find it boring, you could try taking a bath, or even laying on the couch and listening to music. Just relax!
5. Make yourself a hot drink
Indulge in the things that make this season special. It’s always more relaxing to drink something warm when it’s cold out. If you hate cold weather, find small ways to appreciate it by doing things that you wouldn’t in the summer! Which brings me to my next point…
6. Build a fire
Indoor or outdoor, building a fire can feel super luxurious! I’m a big fan of curling up next to one, and it’s another one of those things that isn’t nearly as fun in the heat of the rest of the year.
7. Watch or listen to a comedy
This tip is purely surface level, but it never hurts to lighten the mood. If you’re feeling down, it might help to stop and enjoy your tried-and-true comedy TV show or movie to pull you back into the right headspace! Weirdly enough, my first choice is always the true crime comedy podcast My Favorite Murder, because the hosts Karen and Georgia never fail to make me laugh out loud. I have actually audibly laughed while listening to them in public, so new listeners, beware! A distraction is not always the answer, but there are times when it can help.
8. Have a board game night
I don’t think I talk enough about board games on this blog…but maybe that’s not a bad thing. There is something about them, though, that makes any social gathering instantly better, in my opinion. It might be that they tend to pull people away from their electronics and into the moment, or possibly that they bring a group of people together for a moment who maybe don’t have much in common. Anyway, having a game night is an easy way to get a group of people together without the stress of throwing a party or having to leave the house! It’s easy to feel burned out on social interaction after the holidays, but being with a few friends can be exactly the medicine you need. (If you aren’t a board-gamer and unsure where to start, I would recommend Taboo, the Game of Things, and the Voting Game).
9. Read a book
This might sound like another distraction technique, but reading a good book can also give you a sense of purpose. You are building your brain, learning from someone else’s story, and giving yourself probably much-needed break from screens.
10. Get outside
And as always, one of my go-to answers for most a lot of life’s problems. Take a walk, even if it’s freezing out! You’ll be proud of yourself and you’ll get some mood-boosting exercise! Bonus points if it has recently snowed—science actually shows that the reflection of light from the snow increases your vitamin D intake and leaves you feeling happier.
I made a promise in my last post to take more responsibility for my attitude, and I’m going to use this list to help me keep that promise. However, these solutions aren’t meant to be a cure-all. If you are really suffering and can’t seem to pull yourself out of it, PLEASE go talk to someone about it. These tips are things that I find to be helpful but I’m no expert, and there’s no shame in seeking one out!
Do you have any tips that you live by to keep yourself motivated in the winter? Leave a comment below and share!