“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
November is a tough month for many people. The days are shorter and the weather is grey. School kids, college and university students have many exams and deadlines coming up, many work places have added pressure to fulfil end of year sales, and Christmas shopping commences which can be a financial strain. Furthermore, the year is coming to a close – we are confronted with all the goals and dreams we still haven’t achieved this year.
However, as someone who has suffered the winter blues many times I have developed some tricks and strategies to avoid this negative mind set and prevent falling into an end-of-year-hole. And today I want to share these with you so you can have a great winter without feeling down and out.
1. Come up with a morning routine.
Getting up whilst it is still pitch black outside can be extremely difficult. Starting the day with a battle against the snooze button, dragging ourselves out of bed late and then running around stressed is not a great start to the day. Come up with a little morning routine – something simple, like making a cup of tea and opening a window or your back door and take a couple of breaths or the fresh morning air. Do a couple of stretches, light a candle – just do something small to make your morning special. Having a routine to look forward to will help you get up in the morning.
2. Go outside.
During the cold months the outdoors don’t seem like the most inviting of places but getting some fresh air every day can help make you feel more energised and will make your body more resilient against flus and colds. There is a fair of bit of evidence that going outside for a walk every day can help with both anxiety and depression.
3. Plan fun things.
When you’re feeling down it is easy to just hibernate and stay inside all day watching netflix. Whilst that is absolutely okay to do on some days, make sure to plan some fun things every week and to hang out with people. Go ice-skating with your friends, take yourself out to a your favourite coffee shop, take a trip to the bookstore, visit a near-by town or village you haven’t been to, go to the cinema, have people over for dinner, book a holiday… just make sure you have something fun in your diary you can look forward to at all times.
You might be rolling your eyes at this because it is one of this tips we hear all the time but it is so important. Exercising on a regular basis will make you less likely from getting ill and you can eat Christmas treats without guilt (#winning). Physical activity releases feel-good brain chemicals which will make you more energised and happy. You don’t need to get into a hardcore fitness routine just find something you enjoy and can see yourself doing a couple of times a week. There are many workout videos on youtube that you can do from your own home – you don’t even need to leave your house or spend any money on a gym membership or fancy equipment. And if that still does not seem appealing to you – just have a dance party around your house to your favourite tunes to get your sweat on.
5. Nourish your body.
In my previous post I have talked about the positive effects of a plant-based diet. Even if you aren’t vegan – introducing more fruits, vegetables and greens into your diet will raise energy levels and strengthen your immune system. Make sure to start your day with a good breakfast – this will kick start your metabolism. Oats or fruit are a great option as they are rich in carbohydrates which are important for your brain functions and overall wellbeing.
Limited exposure to sun can lead to a lack of vitamin D which is linked to depression and low energy. Get a supplement from the pharmacy to make sure you are not deficient.
6. Manage your stress levels.
When I feel blue I am tempted to plan way to many things to distract myself. However, I then usually end up stressed, overwhelmed and even more tired and down. Get into a habit of critically looking at your diary each week, writing down all of your appointments and deadlines. If you have no evening to yourself and no time to catch up on doing your laundry, cancel something. If you are at university and struggling to meet deadlines, talk to your tutor and see if you can get an extension. I never used to that when studying for my undergraduate and I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights if I had sought help and admitted that some things were too much for me.
7. Relish the season.
I am hands down a summer person. But if I keep telling myself that I don’t like winter I am setting myself up to be miserable. Rather than focusing on the fact that I hate the dark and grey-ness (is that a word?) of November, I choose to see and enjoy the small beautiful things this season has to offer: I take deep breaths of the wonderful crisp air, pick up coloured leaves and dry them in a book, try out new teas (my current obsession is ‘spiced apple’), light candles, put up fairy lights, make pumpkin soup, snuggle up with a blanket and a book on a rainy afternoon and listen to lots of good music.
8. Talk about it.
It is perfectly normal and okay to feel down and to be stuck in a rut. If you’re anything like me, you might think you can handle it all by yourself and don’t need to talk about how you feel. If I have learned anything it is that that is a silly lie! You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops that you are having a rotten time but talk to your friends, your partner, your parents or just someone you trust about how you feel. Getting things off our chest does wonders and often people have good advice or can help you to get through a bad time by practically supporting you: giving you a hand cleaning and decorating your room/apartment for Christmas, going on a run with you, quizzing you for your exam or taking you out on a little adventure. If you feel like you have no one you can talk to, feel free to send me an email or instagram message – I am always happy to chat!
9. Seek professional help.
If your energy levels are super low and you are feeling depressed for a number of weeks go and speak to your doctor. It is okay not to be okay for a while but there is no need to suffer for weeks and month on end. They way you feel could even be caused by a lack in iron, a hormone imbalance or another medical problem that your doctor can help you with. If this is not the case your GP can give you tailored advice on how to handle your situation. Especially if you have a history of anxiety and depression do not wait too long to see someone. Even if you are hesitant about taking medication, there might be natural remedies or other practical things you can do to feel better and manage your everyday life.