Do you get the winter blues? Do you get edgy, lethargic and downright sad this time of year?
I hate the winter. You think I’d be used to it having grown up in Indiana. The winters there are long and grey. Sure, the snow is beautiful when it first falls. That’s the part southerners see in Christmas movies. What they don’t show you is the light brown, wreck causing, icy slush it becomes in mid February. Yea I’m still not used to that.
Greenville’s weather is much better to be sure. But the trees are still bare, the air is still cold (especially for what we’re used to here) and the sky still grows dark on the drive home from work. That early darkness is really what gets me.
So how do we survive?
Let me start you off with a classic – “admitting you have a problem is the first step in getting help.” For some reason people don’t think seasonal depression is either A) real or B) worthy of acknowledgement. But I assure you it is. You need to recognize that you have the grumps every winter so you can plan for it rather than be surprised by it.
Now let me give you some advice you could follow in a perfect world. Plan a mid-winter vacation in a sunny place each year. This gives you something to look forward to, some relief in the midst of the bleakness, and something to look back on for the duration. Perfect!
Now back to the real world where you can’t take 5 vacation days and spend a thousand bucks on a trip this time of year.
You could always buy one of those lamps that imitate sunlight. I bought one from BrookStone last year but returned it within a couple weeks. For whatever reason it didn’t work for me. But a lot of people swear by them.
For me it’s all about the following:
1) Try to embrace the beautiful part of winter
Everything God creates is beautiful. That includes winter. Where I used to try to deny that it was cold and dark outside I now try to embrace it. I buy winter clothes I enjoy wearing. I sit on the porch next to a space heater, which kind of resembles sitting by a fire. Close enough. I drink more hot beverages. I play in the snow whenever we get some. Etc.
2) Do whatever it takes to get some sun
In the winter I plan to be outside for a walk between 10-2 just to see the sun. You don’t have to take a walk – maybe it's too cold where you live. It could be a drive or sitting and reading by a window inside. The point is, if the sun is visible, get to it.
Reason being that the opposite is what drives us stir crazy. If you’re not intentional with this during the winter you’ll drive to work in the dark, spend all day in the office and then drive home in the dark. A few days of that and food will lose its flavor, and what you used to enjoy will lose its spark – a.k.a. depression.
Also take some vitamin D. It makes you happy like the sun does. Don’t forget vitamin C as well. Because the only thing worse than the winter blues is the winter flu mixed with the winter blues.
3) Find something to look forward to
Pretty basic. But it gives me a chance to tell you about a great Christmas present.
We went to Indiana for a few days after Christmas this year. My parents have the Nintendo 64 they got me when I was 12. They also have the best video game known to mankind to go with it – James Bond 007: Goldeneye. I played it for hours during our visit. So my mom ordered me one from what Ron Swanson would call “Electronic Bay Dot Com.”
Every night I look forward to eating some dinner and saving the world.
4) Gather things that inspire you
You need to be listening to inspiring sermon podcasts. Your itunes needs to include a playlist of inspiring music. Note cards with inspiring verses need to be stacked on your desk. And, most importantly, talking to people with inspiring personalities (which are hopefully your close friends) needs to be on your calendar.
One thing I just started doing is keeping a photo album on my phone called “inspiration” where I store inspiring pictures. I got some pictures of my daughter when she was born, some of our honeymoon, some of family, and some of our church. I scroll though them while listening to upbeat music and it helps me cheer up.
Summer will be here before you know it. Until then let’s try to beat the blues. Hope some of these ideas help you do that. Fight on.