Five tips for dealing with the winter blues

dark-wood-wall

It is cold, wet and dark. Every year I struggle to get through January and February. I hate the deep winter months almost as much as I do sunnyAugust. I hurt more, I am tired, I am usually overweight from having had to increase my asthma medication that just piles on the pounds once the winter colds and cold air take their toll on my lungs and it isn’t easy to see the bright side of anything.

I gave up on New Year’s resolutions a long time ago, but this year I made 5 January resolutions

1. Create a space for myself and make time to enjoy it

Some people enjoy socializing and stop in at the local pub for a pint, go to the gym or hop online for a multiplayer match in their favourite game whilst others withdraw socially and play an instrument, write in a diary/blog, read a book, go for a solitary walk. The activity doesn’t matter, but I find it helpful to know what makes me feel enthusiastic and motivated and make time in my schedule for it.  I declutter and clear one spot in the house and schedule a few hours in my calendar to enjoy it.

snowy wood

2. Quality time with loved ones

Family is important and I love spending time with mine, particularly on a more one-to-one basis. I love hearing their progress on projects that they are passionate about and have philosophical conversations about shared interests.

This is a great time to share some of my hobbies and also to get involved in someone else’s’. Sometimes, the best way to beat the blues is to do something outside of your comfort zone with someone else.

3. Stay warm

When I am cold, my pain levels go up, my energy levels go down, I feel stiff and I can’t think clearly. I get a migraines, I can’t sleep and not even the strongest pain medication provide much relief for any of it. Once I turn the heating up for a little while, have a hot bath, snuggle up in warm clothes, blankets and a hot water bottle, many of these things dissipate and I feel much better.

kitty

4. Slow down but persist

I make New Year Resolutions in April. Starting new projects, changing habits and setting new challenges is just beyond me this time of year. Instead, I tend to reflect, take stock, sort out the things I already have, tie up loose ends, finish up older projects and just generally keep getting through the day. I try not to make appointments or social commitments and almost hibernate at home. If you feel too unwell to go out, you probably are too unwell to go out.

It is easier to stop than it is to slow down and even easier to indulge. I stay in, use mobility aids a lot more and skip the daily physio that hurt. Never a good idea. Instead, I try to stick to the basics without overreaching. I don’t try to loose weight but I also don’t want to gain any. I don’t try to exercise more, but I set an alarm to do my daily physio. I stick to a general schedule without obsessing over every detail and try to make sensible decisions that will more or less keep me in the same place.

5. Celebrate small achievements

Achieving small goals can be very challenging and most of the time I don’t give myself any credit for those because I should be doing them anyway. But should be is not an automated easy way of life. It is time to celebrate the little things. Making it to the toilet in time. Not making it to the toilet in time but not letting that make you miserable. Managing five minutes of exercise, it isn’t 30 but it isn’t nothing either.

It isn’t always easy to make it through the less glamorous months of the year, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as I sometimes make it.

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