We’ve all been there: you’re sitting on the couch on a chilly December night, a sleepy feeling pulling on your eyelids. You haven’t done much with your evening, but you tell yourself that’s okay. It’s bedtime anyway. You gather your things from the living room and head towards that soft fluffy comforter, but something catches your eye. The oven clock…and it’s only 5:15pm.
The low light of winter combined with often unpleasant weather can make these months dull, to say the least! But there are ways to stay motivated, engaged, and excited even when your body thinks it’s bedtime in the middle of the afternoon. Keep reading for our favorite tips on curing the winter blues.
For those of us who experience emotional side effects in winter, getting outside multiple times per day can be a huge help. Even if the sun isn’t shining, getting fresh air and a variety of scenery will stimulate your mind and spirit. If you live in a place that’s particularly cold, be sure to invest in proper winter gear so you can stay outside as long as you like. Wrap yourself and your family up in festive scarves and hats, and get out in the world! Oftentimes your mood will lift immediately when you step outside the door.
Another winter hack is to bring a sunlight simulator into your space. Alarm clocks that simulate sunrise with bright, warm light can make waking up in the darker months much easier. There is a variety available on Amazon, as well as lightbulbs controlled by an app that allows you to set waking and sleeping schedules. Studies have shown this helps increase happy chemicals in the brain, which we can all use a little more of this time of year!
Essential oils are your super accessible secret weapon during winter. You can use them to create a sense of warmth and grounding throughout your day, whether with a diffuser, dropping them in your bath, or massaging onto your skin. Our favorites for winter are orange, peppermint, cinnamon, and ginger. Anything that warms and invigorates your senses will help combat the effects of cold, damp weather. Find your favorite combinations and keep them on hand for any moments you’re feeling dull or unmotivated.
Move Your Body
It’s easy to skip physical activity when it’s cold and dark outside (who wouldn’t prefer snuggling under a blanket with hot chocolate and Disney Plus?!). The truth is, our bodies are producing more melatonin than usual in winter, which contributes to that feeling of overwhelming sleepiness. In order to balance it out and flood your body with energizing hormones, daily movement is extremely beneficial. It doesn’t need to be excessive or strenuous–simply increasing your heart rate, breathing deeply, and using your muscles in a way you enjoy will return huge dividends for your winter wellbeing.
Embrace the Season
Lastly, if we think back to our ancestors’ ancestors, winter would have been a time that they gathered together around fires, conserving energy by eating warm foods and sleeping often. Earth’s cyclical nature invites us to turn inward and embrace the idea of resting and releasing during winter. Start by letting go of the expectation that you will feel exactly the same this season as you did in summer. Take a few minutes to reflect on the invitation winter might be giving you– do you need to slow down in certain areas of your life? Are you comfortable with stillness? Allowing winter to be what it is, and yourself to be how you are, is the gentlest way to improve your winter blues.