By the time February rolls around, most of us don’t want to see another snowflake or icicle, and the thought of bundling up in a winter coat and scarf is enough to send anyone running to hide under a mountain of blankets for the remainder of the day. We’re no longer anticipating holiday festivities or a lover’s retreat; the days hang heavy and most everyone is silently yearning for the warm days ahead.
But for many of us, winter isn’t going away anytime soon. So how does one cope with the seemingly never-ending winter weather? How can we maintain at least a semblance of positivity in the thick of such an exhausting season? Let these tips guide you this and future winters.
1. Add some whimsy to your routine.
When winter days begin to feel monotonous and slow, it’s helpful to incorporate some lighthearted playfulness and spontaneity into your routine. Tired of shoveling two feet of snow off your car? Make a blizzard-inspired playlist to accompany the otherwise dreaded task. Feeling sick of the cold temperatures? Venture outside anyway, if only for a few minutes, and try a walking meditation—focusing on the way the snow feels beneath your feet, the way the wind tickles your cheeks.
It’s natural for our bodies to feel tired during the winter months, especially when snow and ice preclude us from partaking in outside activities, such as running, biking, and swimming. However, becoming sedentary is a recipe for depression, anxiety, and possible weight gain—none of which promote a healthy, active lifestyle. Exercise is known to increase serotonin levels—those mood-boosting chemicals—as well as relieves symptoms of depression, improves mood, and improves sleep. That said, it’s important that you listen to your body even more closely in the winter months. If a 5-mile jog at the gym isn’t appealing, try a winter sport, like skiing, ice-skating, or snowboarding. Above all, listen to your body and be honest with yourself: are you truly exhausted, or is it laziness?
3. Spend time with animals.
Research shows that spending time with furry friends can reduce tension and improve mood. Besides that, who doesn’t love some quality time with companion animals? Even if you’re like me and don’t currently have pets, it’s not impossible to spend some quality time with an animal friend. Offer to pet sit for friends and family, or volunteer at a local animal shelter.
4. Increase your vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D has be linked to depression, and this correlation is made stronger during the winter months when sunlight is scarce and the cold air drives people indoors. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, you might be suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to balance your D levels. While there aren’t many plant sources of vitamin D, but some vegan options, like soy milk, come fortified. You might also consider a vitamin D supplement; 600-1,000 IU is the recommended daily dosage.
5. Learn something new.
A lot of us are likely to experience a bit of cabin fever in the January and February months. Some days, we’re forced to stay inside due to extreme weather—rather than languish in bed with Netflix (which I’m wont to do!), make an attempt to learn something new. Cook a complicated vegan meal that you’ve put off, read a book, learn to knit, etc. By focusing on cultivating new skills, we’re less likely to focus on the season’s frustrations.
How do you combat the winter blues?
Photo: Ultra Sonic Photography via Flickr