That first burst of crisp, winter air is refreshing and exhilarating, but by February, we’re all a little done with winter. Unfortunately, winter isn’t done with us. Some people suffer from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, a more serious clinical diagnosis of winter doldrums that can make us feel slothlike, fatigued, and depressed. Others develop cabin fever and itch to break out of the same old routine. Still others experience the “winter blues,” the common experience of feeling a little lower than usual, unenergized, or sad at this time of year.
If the long winter has brought you down, here are some ways to get yourself back up again.
Master a New Skill
Have you always wanted to make a quilt? How about woodworking? What better time to invest when you have all this indoor time to learn something new! It’s easy these days to find online teachers, instructional videos on YouTube, and Master Classes in all kinds of activities. Plus, keeping your brain engaged in new things may help prevent dementia.
Bring the Outdoors In with Houseplants
If gardening brings you joy during the warmer months, don’t give up the habit just because it’s cold outside. Houseplants are a great investment for your mental and emotional health. A study conducted in 2007 showed that a bacterium in plant soil called Mycobacterium vaccae triggers the release of serotonin, which lifts mood and reduces anxiety. Among other benefits, houseplants can help your memory and concentration while improving your indoor air quality, by adding humidity to the air during dry winter months.
Create a Manageable To Do List for Each Day
If the days feel long and boring, establishing a routine can help shake the dust off of the same old thing and give you a sense of accomplishment by the end of the day. Choose a new chore to do each day, commit to call or write to one friend or family member each day, and write down what you hope to accomplish throughout the day. Go ahead and write down the things you did that you forgot to put on your checklist, too, and then check them off. Now wasn’t that satisfying?
Laugh Along to Your Favorite Films and TV Shows
Scientists have proven that laughter really is good medicine, if not the best medicine. Laughing can reduce depression, decrease pain, boost your immune system, reduce stress, and even burn calories. Choose a selection of old favorites and new options, and invite friends to join in on the laugh fest.
Set a New Reading Goal
Nothing captures the peace and slow pace of a winter day like sitting by a warm fire with a hot cup of coffee or tea and a good book. Broaden your typical genres or preferred authors, read from the Best Books list or recent Pulitzer winners, or find out what your friends are reading on the Goodreads app (or just ask around—people love to recommend good books!). Invite your friends to a book club, or set your own reading challenge for the winter months to lift your spirits, incorporate an edge of competition, and keep your mind sharp.
Write Your Own Story
Now is the time to document the details of your life. Your friends and family members will forever treasure the stories of your life, no matter how mundane or typical they might seem. What stories and events formed who you are today? If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some lead questions: Who was your childhood best friend, and what did you do together? How did you spend your most memorable summer? What was the hardest lesson you ever learned, and who taught it to you? How did you meet your life partner, if you have one? Who made the biggest impact on your life, and how? What was a typical day like for you as a child?
If you want to share your thoughts with a wider audience, consider starting a blog or sharing your ideas on Twitter. These platforms give you an opportunity to interact with potential readers and enter into a larger conversation about the world.
Maintain a Good Sleep Routine
It might be tempting to sleep in on those darker mornings, but your body performs best when it gets the same amount of sleep every night, at the same time every night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least seven hours of sleep each night for your overall health.
Drink Hot Cocoa and Eat Fish
Homemade hot cocoa isn’t just a delightful treat, it’s also full of heart-healthy and mood-boosting flavonoids (when you use nondutched, natural cocoa powder). Here’s a sweet and versatile recipe for homemade hot cocoa using natural cocoa powder.
A balanced diet during the winter months will also help lift your mood. Eating fish 3-5 times a week, at least one egg a day with the yolk, and plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help keep your brain and body healthy and energized.
You don’t have to just wait out the winter doldrums. Take steps to overcome the monotony, and you’ll be on your way to better mental health. And don’t worry, spring is right around the corner!
Danbury Senior Living communities bake remedies to the winter doldrums into every single day through a diverse selection of activities and opportunities to connect, laugh, eat, and learn together. Learn more about the Danbury Difference.