In a prior post, I offered 10 tips for beating winter blues…but that was only half of my list!
If shorter days and chilly temperatures cause you to experience winter blues, I hope some of these tips that have been life-changing in my life will help you, too.
More Tips for Beating Winter Blues
(This information is based on my personal experience, and is not intended to be professional or medical advice. Please consult a professional if you have symptoms of depression.)
11. Spend time outside. I’m an indoor girl by nature, but time spent in the sunshine and fresh air has proven health benefits. Just as importantly, a few minutes of time outside has a way of clearing my head and refreshing my perspective.
12. Establish a schedule. This seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? It seems that one who is having anxious tendencies would benefit from greater flexibility. But I’ve found that having a general schedule established helps our day run more smoothly; the kids know what to expect and can begin to take more responsibility. I’ve also realized that when I try to operate without any type of schedule, I become lazy and don’t accomplish as much, which contributes to my feelings of sadness. God intends for us to be engaged in fruitful labor, and feelings of contentment and joy are our reward when we’re busy doing what He has called us to do. Another benefit of establishing a schedule is that it takes the guesswork out of my day. Feelings of being overwhelmed are common for me during these months, and I tend to want to shut down completely when I can’t decide what task to tackle next. Sticking to a schedule allows me to progress through the day largely on autopilot, which frees up valuable real estate in my brain for more pressing things.
13. Establish household routines. Similar to a schedule, having daily household routines take away a lot of the pressure of deciding what our day’s priorities should be. My morning routine consists of straightening the upstairs area of our house, taking meat out of the freezer to thaw for dinner, and putting away clean dishes from the night before. Knowing that taking out the trash is part of my afternoon routine alleviates any stress I might feel about that task in the morning. Since I wash clothes on Mondays and Thursdays, seeing the laundry bin starting to get full on Wednesday isn’t a source of anxiety for me, because I know the laundry will get done on its assigned day.
14. Be flexible. Wait…what? Didn’t I just advise establishing a schedule and a routine? Yes, having a schedule and routine as a general guideline is helpful; but holding on to them too tightly increases stress. Life isn’t going to happen the way I plan, and acceptance of that truth brings a lot of peace. The desire of a Christ-follower is to pursue faithful stewardship of her time, while staying submissive to the God who gave us each moment of our days in the first place. If He allows an interruption in our plans or a delay in our schedules, it’s for a purpose, and embracing it as a divine appointment frees me to focus my efforts away from my frustrated plans and onto fulfilling His plan for my day.
15. Play music, light candles, and start a fire in the fireplace. I do these things just because they make me happy. A collection of faith-inspired songs, the pleasant scent of a candle and the warm glow of a fire have a way of lifting my spirit. Perhaps you have another preference; simply think of something that is uplifting to you, and do it.
16. Let in natural light. Light is a proven mood-booster, particularly natural light. It also has other positive effects on your health, including keeping your body clock regulated so you sleep more soundly at night. So throw open the curtains and let the sunshine in!
But what about those gray winter days where natural light is limited? On cloudy days, I’ve found this light to be tremendously helpful in improving my mood and alertness.
17. Drink hot tea. Teas have health benefits, and a hot drink helps cold days feel a little cozier instead of just…cold.
18. Enlist help. Perhaps carpooling with another parent will alleviate the stress of transporting kids to school. Trade babysitting with a friend one afternoon a week so you each get an afternoon to yourself twice a month. Have a freezer meal party once a month so you can have fun with friends while stocking your freezer with dinners. And don’t forget to ask your family to pitch in! I’m blessed to have a husband who helps with certain chores that overwhelm me. My children are becoming a huge source of help, too, completing their own morning routines and daily chores. My almost-11-year-old daughter frequently prepares meals, a welcome byproduct of many years of her tagging along with me in the kitchen, offering varying degrees of “help” in accordance with her age. Here’s a great resource for you if you’d like to jumpstart your kids in the kitchen.
19. Be social. This is another hard one for me. On some days, there’s nothing I want more than to hole up in my house until springtime. I’m an introvert by nature anyway, so it’s truly an effort to be with people at this time of year. But the interesting thing is that I always enjoy being with friends and family when the gathering actually gets underway. For some reason, it’s the preparation and anticipation that are the hardest for me. So this becomes an important area in which I can know the truth (I really do enjoy being with people), recognize the lie (I’d be happier if I stayed home alone), and remind myself of truth.
20. Share your struggles with friends. Being open about my struggles feels like casting aside a cloak of darkness and shining a light onto my broken places. Which is intimidating and humbling…but it’s also exactly the soothing balm my broken places need. It’s even better if you share with praying friends. Developing these types of real friendships has been one of the most rewarding efforts of my life.
21. Serve someone else. It’s important to be honest about our struggles, not hiding them or minimizing them. But it’s also important to keep them in proper perspective. Times of struggle tend to make us turn our focus inward, which can breed self-pity and selfishness. The truth is, there are people who are carrying burdens heavier than mine. I remind myself of this, not so I can berate myself for feeling the way I do, but so I can keep looking for people who have needs even greater than mine, and then do what I can to help with those needs.
There are other ways to alleviate symptoms of the winter blues. Some people claim successful use of essential oils for this purpose. It’s also a good idea to check in with your doctor to make sure you’re in good health. But I’m thankful that God has equipped our bodies, our minds, and our spirits to fight against feelings that our enemy hopes will consume us and render us ineffective for God’s kingdom.
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