As the days get shorter and the nights get darker, it’s no wonder the birds fly South. Season change can’t be denied – slippery pavements , dark mornings and bone-chilling days. Holiday companies shout about last minute beach getaways encouraging potential customers to catch the last glimpse of sunshine before the winter sets in.
Winter can feel quite restrictive in a lot of ways, especially if you don’t like the cold. There’s been a lot of research confirming the effects of winter on our emotional state. Due to the lack of light and unappealing weather conditions, spending more time indoors, in front of the screens, can seem like a logical choice.
However, evenings spent watching Netflix or scrolling our social media feed can make us think that things are not right with the world or that everyone else is doing better than ourselves. You may start to feel trapped by your daily routine, unresolved stress at work, unappealing weather conditions and your own negative thoughts. However, despite being unable to change Mother Nature’s mind about the lack of sunny days during the winter months, there’s still a lot we can do to keep the winter blues away.
1. Spend time outdoors as often as possible
Whether it’s a walk in the forest, by the sea or in a local park, the simple act of being in contact with nature can make a huge difference. It helps to calm the mind while also acknowledging things greater than ourselves. Being outdoors also opens up the possibility of meeting new people and welcoming new experiences.
2. Schedule regular meetups with friends
During winter months, we tend to isolate ourselves from other people mostly because we create a routine dependant on weather conditions. Eventually, it may be that we barely see anyone apart from people at work and all our focus starts to revolve around this activity. The thing is, isolating ourselves from our friends and family is likely to make us feel more vulnerable and prone to negative thinking. Surrounding ourselves with the right people can help lift our spirits, even on the gloomiest of days.
3. Include physical exercise in your weekly diary
Physical exercise is essential to our wellbeing. Having it in our diary on a regular basis can help us deal not only with winter blues but with even more serious challenges like anxiety and depression. If there are friends who can join you, even better! Having someone sharing the same goal makes things so much easier, especially when it’s cold and all you want to do is to stay warm under the duvet and watch Netflix.
4. Get away from the screens
I read something about TV years ago and it stayed with me all this time: watching television kills creativity and makes our mind passive. As a therapist, I can definitely say that TV can be hypnothising as it engages us to a point that we become so engrossed in a storyline and forget about everything else. Now, you may wonder why would you want to get away from the screens when they’re so entertaining? I think I’ll leave the answer to you as it all depends on your preferences. However, if you’re anything like me and want to tune into yourself a bit more, then reducing time online can be a helpful choice.
5. Create a good morning routine
Do you have a morning routine that allows you time for self-care? Or do you jump straight into the day without considering what you would like to achieve? I noticed that when I take time for self-care and planning, my morning routine somehow sets the tone for the rest of my day. I like getting up early, while everyone in my household is asleep. It’s a time when I put on some relaxing music, have a good stretch and perhaps read for half an hour. This is my special ‘me time’ that helps me to connect with my inner resources and, if there are any challenges later in the day, it really adds to my resilience.
6. Enjoy some quiet time
There are a lot of messages we can learn from nature during the winter time. Leaves can show us how lovely it is to let go. Hibernating bears can remind us that everything has it’s quiet time when seemingly nothing is happening. Having some quiet time to yourself can become an opportunity to reflect and evaluate your personal and professional goals.
7. Be open to change
Someone once said that change is the only constant, and they could not be more right. Life situations do not always turn out as we had hoped. We are even more painfully aware of this during winter months, as the year is coming to an end. We may find that we have to let go of some of our expectations and adjust to the new circumstances. Although challenging, these situations can become an opportunity to understand the reasons why we felt like that in the first place and finding time for the necessary self-exploration.
Want to read more? Try this – Why is positive thinking so important