Am I the only one finding it a lot tougher to get out of bed lately?
These dark days have me feeling like I want to hibernate. Seriously 5pm feels like 8pm and 8pm feels like midnight.
It’s not unusual to feel this way or to feel like you need to go to bed earlier and rise later.
Humans have an internal circadian rhythm that is tied to the rising and setting of the sun.
Winter means less daylight and more darkness. Our bodies naturally gravitate towards less activity, fattier foods and more body fat storage. It’s how our ancestors survived harsh winters back in the days when there was little shelter or warmth.
Trying to fight this is hard because it’s ingrained in our DNA. I know I personally am less motivated and have to work a lot harder to be in a good mood when the sun shines less and I am cold all the time.
The Winter Blues are no joke.
There is nothing we can do about winter. It will be here, for months, and it is going to be cold and dark and snowy and difficult. That we can’t change. But there are a number of things you and I can do to keep ourselves from succumbing to the Winter Blues.
- Set a goal. Motivation is a lot harder to come by in the cold and when we are covered in so many clothes. Not to mention the holidays! Set a goal you want to achieve by the end of the winter. It could be a weight loss goal or to reach a certain milestone by March. Anything to keep you committed to a routine. It’s too easy to fall off this time of year without a purpose to keep us going.
- Find projects. This is a great time to get things done around the house since you will be spending a lot more time indoors. Pick a project for each area of your home; closets, basement, bedroom, kitchen, etc. Work on completing one project a week. Eliminating clutter and clearing things out will also make you feel lighter, less stressed and more productive all of which can stave off depression.
- Start a gratitude journal. We can thank our ancestors again for hardwiring our brains to remember negative experiences over positive ones. It’s how primitive man learned to survive. This means if we want to remember good things that happened we have to consciously remind ourselves. I started a gratitude journal last year and each night before bed I wrote down all the good things that happened that day and what I was grateful for. On my darkest days it helped me remember there were still so many good things in my life to be happy about.
- Get outside. Ok this one is tough for me because I hate being cold and really, really don’t want to be outside in the winter. But there is something about nature and vitamin D that I cannot deny. It just helps boost your energy and mood to experience nature. Take your dog for a short walk or build a snowman with the kids. Bundle up and try to appreciate the many sides of Mother Nature, from hot humid summer to cold crisp winter.
- Eat healthy and drink lots of water. This one applies year round and especially in the winter. Not much is in season when it comes to fruits and veggies this time of year, but there are some unique to the winter months that are still healthy and delicious. This is a great time to make seasonal recipes using squashes, pumpkin, cranberries, apples and so on. Lighten up chili and make healthier versions of hot drinks like hot chocolate with unsweetened cocoa and almond milk. Comfort foods do not have to be calorie bombs. You can enjoy the best of the season within reason and then you won’t have the guilt or find your pants fitting tighter in February.
If you live in the northern part of the U.S., get ready, we are in for many long, dark cold months. However that’s no excuse to let yourself go or give in to the blues. Spring will eventually come and we can get through this. But we have to consciously take action and don’t give in to the urge to eat, sleep and be moody!
We can do this.