The decorations are gone, Christmas is over, and New Year’s resolutions have been made and broken. Summer is still several months off and those long winter evenings transformed from a cozy novelty into a depressing inconvenience several weeks ago.
Yes, the post-holiday period is a notoriously grim time of year, but there’s still time to turn it around. Here are four ways to beat winter blues and start the new year as you mean to continue it.
1. Change your routine
Getting stuck in the same routine is, at best, uninspiring. During a period when the things we can do in our leisure time are limited by factors like the weather, lack of daylight and other winter delights, it’s easy to get stuck in the same patterns. This doesn’t just apply to our daily routines: when our external routine is the same, we can get stuck in the same emotional patterns too.
One solution is to change your routine. Nothing radical that’s going to totally disrupt your sense of stability, but small changes that are enough to inject a sense of novelty and rejuvination into your day.
If you eat lunch at your desk, go to a local cafe once or twice a week. Get off the bus or train early and walk the last couple of blocks home. If you already walk home, vary your route. Take up a new hobby. Browse your local listings for evening classes. If you have a partner or close friend, talk to them about taking up joint activities. There’s nothing like a weekly Lindy Hop class to dance away the winter cold.
On that note…
2. Get moving
We all know that getting off our asses and getting moving makes us feel good. Whether it’s five minutes dancing around your living room to Tina Turner, or heading out to a local Zumba class, exercise has a multitude of both physical and emotional benefits. Among the many side benefits of exercise, it improves your mood and energy levels, leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed (not to mention virtuous).
The main condition of ‘get moving’ is that it’s fun. Punishing 10K runs on Sunday mornings might be some people’s idea of a good time, but most of us would rather ditch the trainers and stay in bed. Your moments of movement don’t have to be “traditional” exercise: choosing something that motivates you is more important than being conventional.
3. Keep a journal
Journaling is one of the most valuable personal development tools around, and it doesn’t cost you a cent. If you’ve never journaled before, the idea of starting a daily or weekly practice might feel daunting, but the great thing about journaling is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Journaling is traditionally done using pen and paper, but you can use drawing, painting, collage or even music as your medium. As long as the format gives you a voice, it’s worth a try.
Some starting suggestions for journaling ideas include:
- A gratitude journal: Write down 5-10 things you’re grateful for from the day that’s just passed.
- A “have done” list: The perfect antidote to endless to-do lists, a have-done list involves writing down everything you’ve done that day, big and small
- Morning Pages: Write stream-of-consciousness for 3 pages of your journal (or about 750 words). If you think it, it goes on paper. This exercise from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron encourages your internal dialogue to come out, cracks through your defences, and helps to reveal your true thoughts and feelings.
Who we surround ourselves with deeply impacts our levels of happiness and satisfaction. Connecting with like-minded, supportive people is a fantastic way of reclaiming our mojo.
Choose one or two people from your circle of friends who are cheerleaders—people who are accepting, encouraging and inspiring—and make a plan to schedule regular meet-ups or conversations with them. If you find it hard to identify these people within your existing group of friends, use this as a chance to branch out. Taking up a new hobby (see idea no. 1) or attending a new exercise class (idea no. 2) are great ways of meeting new friends who share similar interests.
What are your tips to beat winter blues? Leave a comment and let us know.Featured photo credit: winter river in snowfall via Shutterstock