Three Ways to Feel Better, Despite the Winter Blahs
To me, the month of January feels a bit like one extended Monday. A dark, dreary, cold, uninspired, depressing, neverending Monday. The good news is, we’ve made it through. Each day gets longer as we creep ever-so-slowly toward spring, when things begin to feel lighter, brighter, and easier.
As someone who struggled with depression that ebbs and flows with the seasons, I’ve received a lot of value in medications and therapy. But over time I’ve also found value in making tiny, in-the-moment shifts and choices that help immensely. Here are three ways I’ve helped myself, and that I hope might help you too.
- Greet your body every day. I was so busy in my 20s and 30s that I only thought about my body when it failed me through illness or injury. It took getting diagnosed with a life-changing autoimmune disorder to teach me how to listen to the subtle ways my body talked to me. Try this: breath in for 3 counts; exhale for 5; repeat 5 times. Mentally scan how your body feels: Are you clenching your jaw? Do you need to stretch your lower back? Sometimes my body is screaming and what it needs is a nap. Sometimes its screaming and it needs to go for a run. I used to make plans for a stringent workout schedule to attempt to combat my depression, then beat myself up when I inevitably missed a few days. Now my only habit is checking in, sometimes hourly, to see how my body feels and giving it what it needs in that moment.
- Chase light that doesn’t come from a screen. I grew up in Iowa. I will never move back, because the Colorado sunshine is something I crave. You probably do, too. Don’t overthink it. Open your blinds first thing in the morning. Go for a walk around the block at lunch. Sit by a sunlight filled window and close your eyes and pretend you’re on a beach in Mexico for a few minutes this afternoon. Also, if you’re experiencing a lot of fatigue, talk to you doctor. Just last January my vitamin D levels were so low that my doctor was “surprised I could leave the house.” And if you talk to your doctor, she may prescribe actual light therapy, one of the best ways we know to combat seasonal affective disorder.
- Remember how to have fun. We live under the constant pressure of doing more, being more, and getting more. But trust me on this, you can’t live with good mental health if you don’t slow down and have some fun. The founder of GoodTurn Cycles rediscovered her own personal joy riding an e-bike up Vail mountain. I recently rediscovered joy via a Prince cover band — singing and dancing and acting-a-fool with a good friend. Just be careful in your thinking, because fun shouldn’t be reserved for big moments like these. I find a lot of joy comes from being grateful for small moments — a laugh shared with a co-worker, a snuggle from my dog, or even a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. Start saying Thank You to these tiny moments of your day–I bet you’ll be surprised by just how much fun you truly have.
Please remember, it’s normal to feel down from time to time. But if you’re feeling low for weeks on end, or if you’re considering hurting yourself, talk to someone you trust. There’s no shame in needing to see a doctor or therapist; my depression has been with me my entire adult life and I’ve needed medication and talk therapy at various times. So be encouraged that if your struggling there are ways to help, and if you know someone who is struggling you have some ways to encourage them.
OneGoodTurn Marketing & Development Director