As my amazing readers, I would like to share some good news with you, which would also explain my extended absence since July/August.
In September, I started a new chapter of my life by returning to college. I attended college four years ago, graduated, then took two years off to work; this is my second post-secondary program. I am working towards getting my Honours Bachelor degree in Behavioural Psychology, which is a 4-year program, so I am only in my first year.
So, there you have it…my good news and reason for being “silent”.
Now, to the matter at hand… the “winter blues”. When the season changes from fall to winter, some people might feel sad or down, lose energy, get bored easily, or sleep a lot. I think the most common change in people is that they feel more down during the winter season.
Seeing that winter is in full swing, I figured that this would be a good time to come back to provide some advice for the time of the year when we feel a little bit more “down” than usual.
The winter blues affects everyone differently, and that means it might not even affect some people. For me, however, it affects me a bit differently than it might affect someone else because I deal with depression; so when winter hits, I feel more depressed than I usually do on a good or bad day.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, so taking care of both is important.
Your parents, doctors, teachers, and other important figures explain how important being physically active, healthy, and fit is, but how often do people talk about how important being healthy mentally is? The conversation is growing, but when it comes to the winter blues, being healthy mentally is very important.
So, what can you do to try and take care of yourself during the winter blues? I am not a doctor, medical or healthcare professional, but I am a young person, just like you; I can speak from my own experiences and hope that some of my advice and tips will help you.
Here are my five tips for taking care during the winter blues (in no particular order):
- Try to stay active – feel better, think better.
Remember how I said that your mind and body work together? Well, being active helps your body to refresh your mind; think of it as a workout for your brain. If you like outdoor sports, try finding an indoor alternative. Some easy solutions are playing indoor soccer instead of outdoor soccer, playing basketball in a gymnasium, riding a stationary bike instead of biking in the snow, or even taking a nice walk outside.
If you are going outside, make sure to dress for the weather. DRESS WARM! BUNDLE UP!
- Talk it out – express your feelings/thoughts.
Talk to a trusted friend, partner, family member, adult or authority figure if you notice that you are feeling sad and down more than usual. Sometimes those feelings come out of nowhere; sometimes those feelings are linked to an earlier situation. I understand that talking about how you feel might not come easy to everyone. I find that I feel better after talking to someone because the thoughts that were clouding my mind are out of my head. The thoughts and feelings may still be there after you talk to someone about them, but whomever you speak to can give some very helpful advice on how to deal with the feelings or situation.
- Do what you love – take part in activities that you enjoy.
There is a saying, “do what you love and love what you do.” I suggest that you really try to do this when you feel that you have the winter blues. Make a list of the things you love to do (in any season), things that bring you pure joy, and then do them! When you do activities that you love, you will find yourself being pulled out of the winter blues because you are loving what you do. Motivation can sometimes be hard to find, so try to give yourself time each day to do something you love. If not every day, make a bucket list out of your previous list so that you can cross off activities once you have done them; this will give yourself a sense of accomplishment and will motivate you to continue doing activities.
- Mix up the routine – try something new
I am someone who feels more comfortable with having a routine to follow. Something about following the same series of events helps to reduce my anxiety. I like structure and order, but yes, my room can still be messy. Sometimes when people fall into the same routine and repeat it day after day, they find it difficult to break that routine. During the winter blues, it may be a good idea to try something new; throw in a new activity to your usual routine. Similar to doing what you love, exploration can lead to motivation and vice versa. Trying something new or breaking up your regular routine can give you a different perspective/outlook on your life, even just a little bit. If you don’t want to go outside, trying something new can still give you that “breath of fresh air”. In one of my other articles, I mentioned stepping out of your comfort zone; this is pretty much the same thing. Stepping out of your comfort zone might just be the kick in the pants your body needs to snap out of the winter blues.
- Laughter is the best medicine – have a good laugh every now and then.
Last but not least, laugh. Laugh a little bit, or laugh a lot…just laugh as much as you can. Laughter is the best medicine is a very common and true saying. Have you ever noticed that when you’re really sad and someone tells you a very funny joke, or you watch a comedy, you laugh and feel a bit happier instantly? You are temporarily “cured” of your sadness. Coming from someone who deals with anxiety and depression, when my boyfriend, friends, family, or teachers make me laugh, I feel better. I might not stay feeling this way, but my mind flips from being sad to being happy. Laughter is a pure way to express happiness. You can force laughter, but when something is funny, you can’t help but laugh. Laughing about one situation or joke might even help you remember another situation, and then you just can’t stop laughing; you replace the sad thoughts with good memories.
My advice to you is to try at least one of these tips during this winter season, and really any time you feel down. They might not work for everyone, but trying is better than not trying at all. And if none of these make you feel better, that is 100% okay! Everyone has different ways to feel happy.
Whatever you choose to do the bring the sunshine and warmth to your life during this gloomy and cold season, please be sure that it has a positive impact on you first, but also that it does not negatively affect other aspects of your life. This is my only request.
Life is about a positive balance.
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and holiday season! I wish you all the best in 2017!
Take care of yourselves!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!