Fighting the Winter Blahs

So, this blog post idea has been in the Notes app on my phone since November 17. Today is December 7 for those of you who might not realize it. This is how crazy my life has been: a blog post that pretty much writes itself hasn’t been written. But today is Monday. A new day, a new week, and I have been marking stuff off of my to-do list like a mad woman. Not sure how long into the week being on top of things will last, so I am going to take this opportunity to ACTUALLY WRITE! It is a beautiful thing!

So one of the things that I have struggled with for years is depression. And the winter only makes it more pronounced. I strongly dislike (note that I am choosing NOT to use the word hate) cold, dreary, wet, dark days. I have already said numerous times that summer can come any day now. I like my sun and warm. I like being outside. I like laying in the pool on a raft, taking a ride on the lake in a boat, sitting on my porch sipping ice-cold drinks with friends. And while the occasional “snuggle up on the couch in a warm cozy blanket” day is a welcome respite, the “I am freezing all the time and can’t get warm for anything” monotony of winter leads me down a dark path.

Because I know this about myself, I have had to learn ways to fight off the “I want to stay in my bed for weeks and eat nothing but bad-for-me comfort food and take turns sleeping and watching television” blahs. Here are a few of my go-to weapons.

  1. Work out. Do it. Whatever kind of workout you can do. Take a brisk walk. Go for a run. Head out to a group exercise class (Here is one I teach!). Find an in-home DVD that you enjoy (I can help you find one.). Do something EVERY DAY. The more you move, the more endorphins are released. The more endorphins that are released, the better you feel. The better you feel, the easier it is to fight off the blahs when they come in like a flood.
  2. Eat right. Do it. If you don’t know how, talk to me about it and I will help. Comfort food may seem like it comforts you in the moment, but those sugary, high fat, high carb foods will cause you to crash harder once the initial “high” wears off. Studies have shown that VEGETABLES have an inherent anti-depressant quality, but to get the benefits, you have to eat them. 🙂 If you struggle with this, here is a way to help: don’t buy the junk and/or keep it out of sight. Keep healthy choices in front of you and make them what you reach for in those moments of weakness. Also, when you are having a blah day, be sure that you aren’t eating for comfort. When you feel overly “snacky” find an alternative – go for a walk, call a friend, pick up a hobby you enjoy. Making these healthier choices will help you combat those “down” days.
  3. Get sleep. Do it. Lack of sleep wreaks all kinds of havoc on your body, not to mention your emotional state. Figure out how much sleep you need and make it happen. Sometimes it is hard when you have commitments, but as often as possible get to bed at a time that allows you adequate rest. I know that I need between 6-1/2 and 8 hours of sleep a night to function well. That means if I am getting up at 4:30 a.m. (yep – that is what time I get up almost every weekday so I can make sure #1 happens), I need to have the lights out by 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. at the absolute latest. That means that I get kids headed to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., and I am in my bed by 9:00 p.m. to have some time to do my devotions and read for a little while. If you want to feel better, make sleep a priority.
  4. Even if you are doing all three of these things fairly well, there will still be rough days sometimes. Don’t let the blahs win. Get up. Get dressed in real clothes (don’t default to the sweats/yoga pants that are calling your name). Put on some makeup (if you are one that wears makeup). Do your hair. There is something about the process of making yourself look good that in turn makes you feel good.
  5. Last but certainly not least, if you are still struggling, ASK FOR HELP! It might be you need your spouse to do something to help you. You might need to have lunch with a friend. It is possible that you need medical or pharmaceutical assistance. When you have tried everything and it isn’t getting you anywhere, it is time to call in reinforcements in the form of PEOPLE who care about you and love you.

You can make it through the winter blahs. Even if it means you occasionally need to turn up the music and have an impromptu dance party in the middle of your living room or drive around town with the music blaring and you singing at the top of your lungs. (Yes, sometimes these are necessary coping mechanisms for me.) So in that vein, since it is Monday and I like to share music with you on Mondays, enjoy one of my family’s favorite Christmas songs and SMILE!

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