5 Ways to Avoid the Winter Blues

Dry, cold air. A lack of sunlight. Dirty snow. Dead grass. These are all the not-so-great qualities of winter, even the trees, and some animals hibernate through it because they can't deal. Why humans were not blessed with the ability to sleep for months at a time, I will never know. Yet, I do know that winter has enough wonderful attributes to make me want to stick around. The snow can truly be so beautiful, and if you get out of the city there are so many fun snow-related activities to partake in. Also, we can't forget the apple cider, hot cocoa, cute winter apparel, poinsettias, holiday goodies, and cuddling up with a good book or movie in front of a fireplace (no, I totally don't have one, but a girl can dream). And of course, we have the holiday season which can be so full of spirit and joy!

But after the ache of your overstuffed stomach fades away and you sleep off those New Years Eve martinis, many people, myself included, can fall into a rut and somehow believe that this long, dreaded winter will never end. We stay in and stress out, we can have feelings of numbness or dissatisfaction with our daily lives, have poor eating habits and feel so tired that we want to sleep all day, and among other symptoms, we can just plain feel SAD. Yes, I'm talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder. In many cases, those affected by the disorder also deal with mental illness year round, but there are those who get hit by winter so hard that this once a year battle can have them moving to more moderate climates. We can't all move. And we can't let winter get us down! Always remember if it's getting too tough there is NEVER shame in visiting a mental health provider and you DO have people who love you and support who! 

Here are five simple steps to help you avoid those winter blues like the plague:

1. Get a sun lamp AKA happy lamp

If you’ve ever seen Broad City you know that one of the characters, not to be named, (I don’t want to spoil the show! But since I’m doing this favor to those who haven’t watched it, go check it out!) struggles with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)  and keeps an artificial light source on her to bring up her spirits. The lack of sunlight in the winter can be a major bummer, so this little HappyLight is a great tool to keep you going.

 

2. Get out of the house … or stay in!

The point here is to reserve one day (or more) a week to do something fun with friends. Since we don’t have class on Fridays, my roomie and I will check out a new part of the city, visit a museum, make a trip to Target, or grab lunch. Whatever you enjoy doing, make a point to do so! It’s so easy to get caught up in work or school, but when your mental health is on the line, you have to take time for yourself. Even a movie night with pizza and popcorn can really help your attitude throughout the week.

These two are always hanging out and supporting each other even when they fight. They also encourage tons of self-love! It's the best. 

On that note...

3. Practice self-care!

Take a small part of every day to treat yourself! Even doing a ten-minute face mask, painting your nails or taking a nap can help you feel relaxed and ready to take on the rest of the day. It’s also important to know when enough is enough. If you’re up until 3 a.m. doing an assignment and you’re near crying of exhaustion, that’s not going to help anyone! Manage your time and ask yourself, “Is this more important than my well being?” The answer is probably not. Sleep is so important. If you have trouble falling asleep try making some chamomile tea, reading a book, or taking a bubble bath. You are amazing a deserve to feel loved. Start by loving yourself!

4. Get your vitamins

Your body is a temple! Feed it! 

Eating well-balanced regular meals will fuel your body and mind. Even if you feel you have the perfect diet, it’s always a good idea to take a multivitamin to give you extra goodies you may be missing out on. Or you can take supplements for vitamin D and C which are essential to your health especially in the winter. It’s really an orange a day that keeps the doctor away! Buttt.. apples totally work too. 

Yes, the Gif is Lincoln from Broad City, I love him and it happened to be relevant. 

5. Do some aromatherapy

Yes! Fill the air with your favorite scents! What you smell can trigger emotions, so we want them to be positive! A candle can always do the trick, but I much prefer running a humidifier with some lavender essential oil. Not only do you get a relaxing scent, but you’re also putting water in the air, which couldn’t be more necessary in the winter. You could also light an incense or bake something. Whatever it is that makes you happy!

Mental health issues are serious and can be misunderstood. If you have thoughts or feelings of suicide, please call the suicide prevention lifeline: 1-800-273-8255