It’s that time of Winter—we’ve made it through a good chunk of freezing cold days and piles of snow and yet we still aren’t sure when Spring is coming (Spring IS going to come again right?!). With the lack of Vitamin D and constant grey sky, many of us start to notice our moods feeling a bit lower than normal. Although it can feel as though we may NEVER see that baby blue sky again, Winter will indeed eventually end. So as we wait for the smell of fresh cut grass, let’s talk about a few ideas to help us embrace the rest of Winter.
Noticing things that we are grateful for can seem like an insignificant act. However, research shows that people who practice gratitude on a regular basis experience many significant benefits such as improved mood, physical health, sleep, and self-esteem. Who doesn’t want that?! One way you can practice gratitude on a regular basis is to keep a gratitude journal. This can be as simple as jotting down 2-5 things you were grateful for at the end of every day. It may feel more difficult to practice gratitude in the Winter, but get creative. Today I am grateful for the beauty of the glistening snow on the tree branches.
Reframe Negative Thoughts
Research shows that our thoughts greatly impact our emotions and behaviors (‘aka’ Cognitive Behavior Therapy). When we are thinking negatively, we often feel worse (depressed, anxious, sad) and behave in ways that can worsen our mental health (isolate, sleep too much, withdraw). When we are able to notice and re-frame our negative thoughts, we tend to see an improvement in both our emotions and behaviors. So instead of thinking Winter is awful and I am NEVER going to make it through Winter, you can re-frame to a more balanced thought such as Winter is getting long and Spring will be here soon.
Get Creative with Movement
Most people know the benefits of movement (improved mood, sleep, physical health, energy, etc.) and yet it can feel exceptionally hard to move our bodies when it is freezing cold outside and we’d rather be snuggled up by the fire. With that said, it can help to get creative with how we move our bodies during Winter months. If you enjoy walking, but prefer to be inside, consider going to a climate controlled space, such as a mall or community center. If you don’t mind the cooler temperatures, consider activities that are unique to Winter such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or ice skating. Oh and don’t forget shoveling as a great form of Winter movement (we have enough snow in St. Paul, Minnesota right now to keep our bodies moving for awhile!).
Try a New Hobby
How about that scarf you’ve been wanting to learn how to knit? Or that Pinterest project you are wanting to attempt? Maybe you want to learn a new language? Trying a new hobby and mastering a new skill can greatly improve our mood and overall well-being. So often we think we are too busy to make time to try something new and yet we find ourselves scrolling (hours upon hours) through social media or engaging in other mind-numbing tasks. Switching up our daily routines and trying something new is a healthy way to pass time and to challenge our brain.
While many of us may notice a slightly lower mood during the Winter, some people experience a significantly lower mood. Do you feel like you are having a harder time getting through Winter than other people in your life? Does it feel like these ideas are harder to implement on your own? It could be more than just colder weather and shorter days impacting your mood. Consider getting some extra support and schedule an individual therapy appointment today. We are here to help Embolden YOU!