Tomorrow marks the first day of winter. The shortest day of the year, otherwise known as probably my least favorite day of the year.
I am not a fan of winter by any means. Put me somewhere where the temperature is always between 70 and 90, and the sun shines more often than not, and I’ll be happy. I don’t like cold or snow very much, and I don’t like kissing the sun goodbye before dinnertime. And mornings? I am a morning person, but this time of year, the call of my cozy bed is often too strong to ignore.
I am familiar with seasonal affective disorder–a relative has been diagnosed with it. Part of me thinks that people without a formal diagnosis start to get a bit sluggish during the winter months, too–cabin fever, anyone? And you can’t forget how so many people struggle right around the holidays, over family issues and loneliness. When things get dark in the physical environment, they get dark for many in their minds as well.
One way to cope with this is through eating. The 30-plus day stretch between Thanksgiving and the new year is probably the most socially acceptable time of year to gorge on goodies. But eating is not the most effective way to cope with all that’s going on, if we are honest with ourselves. It is only a temporary band-aid over a gaping, invisible heart wound.
I want to try to nip my winter blues in the bud this year–and to not throw excess food at them. Here are some things I’m going to do to nab a little more joy this winter:
Dream of the tropics. I think I’ll try to think warm thoughts when the temperature dips. But if/when that fails, I’ll queue up some equator-adjacent episodes of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (I’m still making my way through all the seasons on Netflix) or escape with a good fiction book–a change of pace from my typical reading habits.
Plan a mini getaway. The lack of major holidays between January and May is brutal. I won’t be able to inhabit the Caribbean for a week, but I can whisk the family away to an indoor water park/resort for a day or two–there are several to choose from in my area. Or even a walk through the gigantic heart at the Franklin Institute would warm my heart, with me hoping my son enjoys it as much as I did as a kid.
Get some activity in. Speaking of No Reservations, one episode I’ll never forget is the one in Iceland. There are times when there is no sun to speak of on that country; yet, natives seemed incredibly good-natured, considering the circumstances. Bourdain indicated that one of the favorite pastimes is getting in exercise. Dancing away the blues and some calories sounds like a good way for me to do that.
Pamper myself. This time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in holiday tasks, or to sleep in and quickly throw yourself together for work without much thought. This is definitely my M.O. But taking some extra time on self-care may make me feel a little more at ease when I have to scrape a few inches of snow off my car or trudge through the supermarket in search of rock salt.
Laugh more. I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve been enjoying many moments of silliness with my husband. It’s worked wonders on my outlook, as have the times I’ve gotten to play with my son lately. Thankfully I’ve found that several of the new TV shows this year are entertaining enough to further keep me in stitches. There is lots of laughter to be had; the challenge is choosing to embrace it. Mastering that will definitely make the dark winter days a little brighter.
Reach out to the great people in my life. Again, this is something I’ve been making a conscious effort to do more regularly, and the benefit has been fewer feelings of loneliness. Continuing to make calls and visits will help to make the winter months fly by a bit faster.
Embark on some color therapy. I’ve been wearing a lot of gray and black this season, but I think is high time I add some more color to my day-to-day outfits to lift my mood. I think some neon nail polish is also in order, to literally have a splash of color at hand.
These are the things I’m going to double-down on in the hopes of making it to March with a smile on my face. What will you do to cope with the winter blahs? Or do the cold, dark days not faze you at all? Do tell.