Christmas is over. The decorations are put away, the credit card bill is due, and the weather has turned frigid. This is the time of year when I usually come down with the winter blues. I mean, can you blame me?
Turns out, I’m not alone in feeling this way in January.
The third Monday of January is said to be the most depressing day of the year and is called Blue Monday. Why? Well, there are a bunch of reasons: weather, debt, Christmas is over, new year’s resolutions have usually failed by then, and feelings of low motivation. While Blue Monday is pseudoscience (the term was coined by a travel agency – my guess is they made it up to sell vacations to warm destinations), intuitively, it makes sense.
There are people who get the winter blues a lot harder and earlier in the winter than I do. A more severe form of the winter blues is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is when people who usually have no mood problems throughout the year exhibit depressive symptoms during winter months.
While I don’t have SAD, I do feel a bit down in the winter months following Christmas. Here are my top 3 tips that have helped me find motivation and boost my happiness during winter.
1. Spend Time Outside, Especially During Daylight Hours
Yes, I am aware that it’s winter but it’s important to remember that as human beings, we thrive on being outside in nature. As I’ve mentioned previously, being outside is an instant mood booster.
As a 9-5 office worker who finds it difficult to leave her desk during the workday, I get my outdoor time by walking the last leg of my morning commute. This way, I’ve incorporated being outside into my daily routine instead of trying (and often failing) to get a walk in during the day. Another excuse to get away from the desk is to go for a walk at lunch. Sometimes, I will tag along with co-workers as they run their errands or go grab a coffee during the lunch hour.
Read more: 5 Tips To Survive Your Commute To Work
Well, brisk walking is a sure fire way to keep the blood flowing. Also helpful are blanket scarves, heavy-duty winter boots, thermal gloves and a warm hat.
Gosh, isn’t winter just the best??
2. Take Vitamin D Supplements
What is missing in the cold, dark winter days? You got it. The sun!
Did you know that most Americans are Vitamin D deficient? In the winter, things get even worse. That’s because Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, is produced through absorption of UVB rays from the sun.
This is where supplementation comes into play. A University of California-Davis study stated that Vitamin D supplementation should be increased by 500 IU in the winter months in order to maintain acceptable levels.
Low levels of Vitamin D are actually linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and supplementation is often offered as part its treatment.
Personally, I didn’t start taking Vitamin D supplements until a couple years ago. Since then, I’ve found that the lack of light has not affected me as much as previous years. All this to say, consider speaking with your doctor about your Vitamin D levels and supplementation needs.
3. A Winter Getaway
While escaping to a Caribbean island sounds incredible, it’s not always feasible. However, a short weekend getaway can lift your spirits.
Two years ago, my sister and I spent the weekend in Blue Mountain (a resort village north of Toronto). It was so fun to get away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives and spend time exploring the village. A change of scenery (even if it was still winter scenery) felt like a mental break from the mundane. See if you can convince a friend or partner to spend the weekend (or even day) away.
They probably need a break just as much as you!
While I much prefer running outdoors, it’s important to keep physically active any way you can. On really frigid days, I use my condo’s gym or walk around a shopping mall. Mall walking isn’t just for the over 60 crowd. 😉
If you need tips on how to find motivation for a workout, Vanessa’s got you covered.
Read more: 4 Tips To Keep Fit In The New Year
5. Find A Social Hobby
Remember when everyone was spending all their free time colouring? I totally jumped on that bandwagon too and got absolutely obsessed with colouring books. Instead of keeping it as a solitary activity, my friends and I spent many evenings together, catching up, sipping on wine, and colouring in our masterpieces. I think social interaction is key, especially in winter when you don’t feel like leaving your house!
Those are my 5 mood-boosting tips for the winter blues. Leave your own tips in the comments below. Let’s make the best of this winter season!