It is that time of year when the days are short and the nights are long. It can really get to just about every one. Use some of these tips to help improve your mood and get back on track. Make this winter the best one yet.
Gandhi once wrote that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Positive psychologists like University of Pennsylvania’s Martin Seligman and Dan Baker, Ph.D., director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, believe that a sense of purpose–committing oneself to a noble mission–and acts of altruism are strong antidotes to depression.
Head to Rec IM.
Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse not to sweat. The Rec IM is a great place to exercise inside! Granted, it’s not the same–watching the news or listening to the soundtrack from “Rocky” as you run in place as opposed to jogging along wooded paths with a view of the river. But you accomplish the goal: a heart rate over 140 beats a minute.
Use a light lamp.
Bright-light therapy–involving sitting in front of a fluorescent light box that delivers an intensity of 10,000 lux–can be as effect as antidepressant medication for mild and moderate depression and can yield substantial relief for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is also just a great way to unwind and relax.
Wear bright colors.
Fake it ’til you make it! Attempt to trick your brain into thinking that it’s sunny and beautiful outside–time to celebrate Spring!–even though it’s a blizzard with sleet causing some major traffic jams. You can even bust out the aloha shirt and sandals inside for a change of pace from the big itchy sweaters.
Force yourself outside.
It may be the last thing you want to do when it’s 10 degrees outside and the roads are slushy is to head outside for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. It’s much more fun to cuddle up with a good novel or make chocolate chip cookies and enjoy them with a hot cup of joe.
On many winter days–especially in late January and early February when your brain is done with the darkness–you have to literally force myself outside, however brief. Because even on cloudy and overcast days, your mood can benefit from exposure to sunlight. Midday light, especially, provides Vitamin D to help boost your limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. And there is something so healing about connecting with nature and outside , even if it’s covered in snow.
Hang out with friends.
This seems like an obvious blah buster. Of course you get together with your buddies when your mood starts to go south. But that’s exactly when many of us tend to isolate. People need to be validated and encouraged and inspired by persons on the same journey. And with all the technology today, you don’t even have to throw on their slippers to get to a support group. Online communities provide a village of friendship right at your computer.
Focus on the Positive:
It’s so easy to focus on the negative, but taking stock of the positive can greatly improve our perspective and mood. Take time each morning or night to write down a list of positives or things you are grateful for. If you’re comfortable, you can post your gratitude list on Facebook or tweet out one of your “positives” to inspire your friends and family.
In some locations, the weather keeps you home bound for a good part of the season. Just because you aren’t going out as much, doesn’t mean you can’t plan activities and have fun. Plan a movie night for yourself or a group of friends. Indulge in a hobby or start a project. Instead of feeling “trapped” inside, make a list of things you enjoy and find ways to engage in those activities.
Refocus on your Resolution
Or create a new one! Just because you lapsed two weeks into your diet doesn’t mean you should give up on it for the rest of the year. This is a great time to really buckle down and accomplish your goal whether it is losing weight, bulking up, getting a 4.0 semester or finishing 10 books. Don’t give up and you can have a new you by spring.
Clean your Room!
It may sound like you never left home after winter break, but you really should Start to de-clutter your room. Winter is a great time to reorganize your living space. Even a tiny dorm room can use a redecorating everyone in a while. Switch things up. Move your bed and dresser around and it will feel like a new room. Don’t save your spring cleaning just for spring, a revitalized room can mean a revitalized you.