Grey skies. Freezing temperatures. Short days. If you live in the northern hemisphere, February represents the coldest month of the year and the time when the winter blues really start to hit. By now you’ve suffered a few months of the cold season, yet it is still too early to start feeling excited about spring, let alone summer.
Feeling slightly down and lethargic because of winter is one thing, but for many people, especially those living at very high latitudes, the winter blues can mutate into full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is marked by depression, indecision, severe lack of motivation and even episodes of weeping or self-harm.
So if the long winter is biting and you’re feeling down, fear not. We’ve put together five handy hints to get you through this last stretch and happily into spring and new beginnings.
1) An active body means a happy mind
Sure, we know it’s tough to even leave the house when it’s snowing and below freezing outside, but the rewards definitely justify the effort. It may be tough to exercise outside, but there are always plenty of indoor options as well, especially if you live in the city. Then again, a skiing holiday can’t be beaten when it comes to lifting the spirits.
2) Keep your social life going
Even if you simply can’t bring yourself to leave the house, invite some friends over for dinner, or use the time to get in touch with friends who may have moved away and who you haven’t seen in a while. Video calls are great and the fact that they’re scheduled means you even have something to look forward to.
3) Create a warm, safe space
The winter months are perfect to take up a hobby or craft, and one that improves your living space will keep rewarding you even when the weather improves. Make all those little changes around the house that you have been meaning to get to but never do. Then focus on comfort and nesting. If you’re going to be cooped up inside you may as well make the most of it.
4) Rewatch your favourite shows and movies
Yes, we realize there are thousands of new shows and films you could be watching, but like a favorite old sweater, rewatching the things you love the most will create feelings of trust, familiarity, and safety. If you have kids you could even take the time to introduce them to the things you loved at their age and make this trip down memory lane a nice bonding experience.
5) Focus on you – meditate
Meditation has been proven to help combat depression and help us deal with negative emotions. Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a world-renowned psychiatrist who has researched the effects of meditation on SAD, found that in addition to stimulating the pineal gland and releasing melatonin, meditation effectively relaxes both the body and the mind. This relaxation leads to increased activity in the parts of the brain associated with happiness (specifically the left prefrontal cortex) and decreased activity in the parts of the brain associated with stress.