The One Thing You Should Always Do to Beat the Winter Blues
Winter is peak time for all things cozy. The colder weather signals chill vibes, soft blankets and warm mugs of tea by the fire, which, at first glance, seems pretty lovely. But for so many, the shorter days and frigid temperatures can zap their energy and make them feel blue. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, four to six percent of the American population have SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, which is a form of depression that is triggered by shifts in weather and daylight, primarily during the winter time. The dark and cold can make you feel like you want to crawl into bed and not come out, and while it’s so important to practice basic self-care this time of year, like exercising and eating well, it’s also important to carve out time for the things you love.
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If you only do one thing in an effort to beat the winter blues, Gabby Rascati, LCSW of Third Eye Counseling in Chicago, recommends having small things to look forward to throughout the entire season. The winter blues can affect anyone, and filling your schedule with things you enjoy is a surefire way to lift your spirits during the winter months. “Make a list of activities that really shine in the coziness of winter. The simpler the better,” Rascati shares. “As long as they’re easily accessible things you can get genuinely excited about that let you relish in the season.”
Even though this may feel like a Herculean effort at times, participating in activities you enjoy can keep you feeling light. “Have a list of ideas to pull from for when you feel uninspired, but are craving a sense of novelty or break from the routine,” Rascati recommends. These activities don’t have to be lavish — they can actually be the opposite. “Try watching a movie from your childhood, spend an evening only in candlelight, or listen to your favorite album start to finish,” Rascati suggests. And while you can do these simple activities solo, leaning into your community of family and friends is a great way to lift your spirits even more. Social withdrawal is just one sign of depression, and isolation is the opposite of what you really need.
Making an effort to stay social in the winter months not only keeps you feeling good, but it helps your loved ones as well. Check in on your friends and family by sending a quick text, scheduling a FaceTime chat, or simply picking up the phone and making a call, just to say hi. The dead of winter is also a great time to throw a party or host a get-together. Friends in sweaters, catching up and sipping mulled wine by the fire is very hygge (the Danish concept of coziness and comfort) and is sure to cheer you and your loved ones up. Or if you’re itching to get out of the house, why not meet up for coffee with a friend or join a club (indoor pickleball, anyone?). As Rascati recommends, the key is making sure these are things you can look forward to, even amidst the dark and cold.
Trudging through February can often feel like a struggle, but having a calendar filled with simple pleasures and activities can make it a little easier, manageable, and even enjoyable. And if you find yourself venturing out of your home for a winter activity, Rascati has one final tip: “Breathe in the fresh air, even if it’s just a brief intentional deep breath before going from heated place to heated place!”