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Beating The 'Winter Slump'

Part way through winter...and how many of us have fallen off the New Year's resolution bandwagon? Research shows that 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by the second week of February. It's easy to start the year motivated after abandoning restraint during the holidays. We start the year ready for change, but when our expectations for change are unrealistic, it can be hard to stick with new routines. When the weather is dark, gloomy and below-freezing that certainly doesn't help our motivation for enacting long-term change. Many people experience a 'Winter Slump', the let-down after the holidays that greatly affects mood. This "slump" can be clinically referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in more severe cases. According to Psychology Today, "An estimated 5 percent of Americans experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) a type of depression that sets in during the shorter days of fall and winter and lasts until spring. there are ways we beat the winter blues."


Beating the 'winter blues' involves incorporating strategies that address the unique challenges often associated with the colder, darker months. Here are some tips to help lift your mood and boost your well-being during the winter:


  • Maximize Natural Light Exposure: Spend time outdoors during daylight hours to maximize exposure to natural light. Open curtains or blinds to let sunlight into your home, and consider using light therapy lamps to combat the effects of reduced daylight.

  • Stay Active: Engage in regular physical activity, which has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Whether it's indoor workouts, winter sports, or brisk walks, staying active can boost your energy levels.

  • Maintain a Healthy Sleep Routine: Ensure you are getting enough quality sleep. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and create a comfortable sleep environment. A well-rested body and mind are better equipped to handle winter blues.

  • Socialize and Connect: Combat feelings of isolation by maintaining social connections. Plan activities with friends and family, attend social events, or join clubs or groups that align with your interests.

  • Embrace Cozy Activities: Embrace the winter season by engaging in cozy and enjoyable indoor activities. This could include reading, watching movies, cooking comfort foods, or indulging in hobbies that bring you joy.

  • Eat a Balanced Diet: Consume a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Proper nutrition can positively impact your mood and overall well-being.

  • Set Realistic Goals: Break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable goals. Setting achievable objectives can help you stay motivated and provide a sense of accomplishment, even during the winter months.

  • Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises, into your daily routine. These techniques can help manage stress and promote a sense of calm.

  • Plan Exciting Activities: Look forward to and plan activities that bring you joy. This could be a winter getaway, a special event, or simply trying out new activities to break the routine.

  • Stay Hydrated: Even in colder weather, it's essential to stay hydrated. Proper hydration supports overall health and can positively impact your energy levels.

  • Seek Professional Support: If your winter blues persist and significantly impact your daily life, consider seeking professional support. A mental health professional can provide guidance and support tailored to your individual needs.

winter scene with snow and trees
Beating the winter slump might mean re-adjusting goals, incorporating strategies to boost mood and/or seeking help when necessary.
 

For more articles and tips on beating the winter blues, check out these links:


Finding ways to refocus your New Year's goals and resolutions so that they are motivating and realistic can help you get back on track (Check out our blog from earlier this month on how to set attainable goals). However, if you're finding that your "slump" is more debilitating than normal and you're struggling to move through daily life, seeking therapy might be the next step toward your healing journey for a truly successful new year. As professionals, we can tailor our support to match your specific needs. Please reach out here.

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