I’ve heard it said that February can be the most depressing month. The holidays are long gone, winter has settled in with full force, the days are short, and warmer weather seems to be light years away. Many people start to feel a little down this time of year, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some simple tips to help you support yourself so that you can fully enjoy this time of year.
1) Get outside
One of the main reasons for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is that during the winter months, we tend to get much less natural sunlight. Natural light is important because it helps keep the natural rhythms of our body in an optimal state. Make sure to take some time to get outside each and every day, even if it’s cold out. Bundling up and going for a quick daily walk can do wonders for your mood. Make sure to dress appropriately and take time to look around and notice the winter sights as you breathe in the brisk air.
If you spend a lot of time indoors at a desk, using a light box can be extremely helpful in replicating the effects of the sun. Light boxes have been known to increase happiness and promote an overall feeling of wellbeing.
Lastly, it may be helpful for you to take a Vitamin D supplement. Our bodies obtain Vitamin D naturally from being out in the sun, so taking a vitamin may help make up for any deficiencies you may experience from not getting enough sunlight in the winter months.
2) Go within
As much as it is important to make time to get outside each day, it is also important to honor the natural rhythm of winter by taking time to turn your focus inward. Winter is a time for quiet contemplation. Animals hibernate during this time of year in order to rest and prepare for the season ahead. The trees and plants start doing their deep work underground. We can take a cue from nature and do the same.
Journaling is a great way to connect with your intuition by doing some quiet reflection and introspection. Take some time to journal about the things that you need to let go of. What anger, resentment, or frustrations are you holding onto? Make a choice to let them go. Let go of old grudges. Decide to forgive someone that has hurt you, maybe even yourself. This time of year is the perfect time to have these difficult conversations with yourself. It is important to allow yourself the quiet space to make peace with your past and release all that is no longer serving you so that you can start to move forward as your best possible self.
After you have let go of the things that are weighing you down, it’s time to shift your focus to the future. Winter is the perfect time to start to focus on your desires and create a vision for what you most want from life. Set some goals and decide to go after your dreams. Get clear on your vision, create a game plan and decide to do something you’ve always wanted to do.
3) Warm yourself from the inside out
Since the temperatures outside are so cold during this time of year, it is important for us to learn to build heat from the inside out. Exercise is one of the best ways to do this. Find a form of movement that works best for you and make a commitment to move your body everyday. Take a hot yoga or vinyasa class, try a new pilates studio, start a weight training program, or begin training to run a 5k. Physical activity gets our inner fire burning and releases natural endorphins that make us feel good!
Another way to start to tend to your inner fire is by drinking and eating warm foods and drinks. This is the perfect time to experiment in the kitchen and try some nice, warm stews and soups, hot toddy cocktails, or soothing teas.
These three strategies may seem simple, but if you start to practice them consistently, you will notice a major difference in your mood. The key is to be gentle with yourself. It can be challenging to start new habits, so start slow. Pick the activity that seems the easiest for you to implement, and start there. Once you have made that a habit, you can start to incorporate the others little by little. Remind yourself that in order to feel better, you need to do the things that will help you make that shift. “If you do what you always did, then you’ll get what you always got.” Take good care of yourself by deciding to do things differently this winter.
Wishing you a happy and warm week ahead.
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