As I’ve mentioned before, I come from a place where blue skies outnumber grey ones 100 to 1. It rains and snows, but five minutes later the sun is out. And aren’t those skies the bluest! Even in the winter, there wasn’t a place that could beat Arizona for blue skies. I loved it.
And then God moved me to a place where the winter is always grey, and rarely blue.
Last winter was good at first…at least I could feel all cozy and Christmas-y! But then Christmas passed, and the grey days continued. And pretty soon, I found myself struggling with depression. It was awful.
The winter blues are normal for anyone who experiences a grey winter. The long, cold days without sun can just get to your very soul! But there are things you can do to beat those winter blues. This winter, I’m building up my defenses against seasonal depression. Here’s what I’m doing, and I encourage you to try them too:
1.) Get your vitamin D. One of the biggest reasons people get the winter blues is a lack of vitamin D, which you get from the sun. This winter, get all the sun you can get. Don’t waste those rare sunny days! Get out there and get some sun. Trust me…you will feel so much better. You might also consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Whatever the case, make sure you’re getting enough. Vitamin D improves your mood, and is also very important to your health. It even combats cancer! So don’t skimp on the sun. Make it a priority.
2.) Exercise. Don’t let the short, dreary days of winter hinder your exercise routines. If anything, exercise more. Exercise will get your blood flowing and keep your body healthy. The “high” you experience after a set of cardio will also combat against feeling sad. Exercise is a mood booster! I would recommend exercising outside, where you get the double-benefit of getting in some vitamin D. Yay for killing two birds with one stone!
3.) Eat Right. Just like exercise, the holidays can be a real downer for eating healthy. Now, I don’t expect you to pass on all those delightful holiday goodies. But when you do partake, do so in moderation. Be sure that the majority of the time you are eating fresh, healthy, whole foods. There’s no mood downer like an overage of carbs and sugar.
4.) Focus on the things you like about winter. Here in Arkansas, spring, summer, and fall are pretty much wonderful to me. Winter? Not so much. There’s something about the grey days without any green that just gets to me. But guess what? There are things I like about winter. What about getting to snuggle by the fire with a warm cup of tea? Or how about all the warm, comfort-food that you can make? There’s even something beautiful about the barren, rolling hills. Learn to delight in the things you love about winter, instead of focusing on the bad. This winter, I’m even making a list of winter projects I want to do, like sewing, crocheting, or baking. When you have something to look forward to about winter, the doldrums are less likely to creep in.
5.) Focus on others, and not yourself. Sometimes sadness and depression can be very hard to shake. If you feel this way, then a good dose of helping others just might do the trick. When you’re busy helping others through their problems and needs, then you won’t have time to focus on your own sadness. Volunteer at church or for a community organization. Sometimes when I’m feeling a little down, rocking a sweet baby to sleep is just the trick. Don’t have any more time on your plate? Look for little ways to serve others. Bake a busy mother a meal or take a plate of cookies to the older gentleman down the street. Shift your eyes off of your own problems, and shift them to Jesus…ask Him how He can use you to help others.
6.) Take your concerns to God. Ultimately, there is only One who can help you get out of the pit of depression. When you’re feeling down or blue, take your troubles to God. He longs to hold you in His arms and be the balm to your heart. Read through the Psalms, spend time in prayer, or set aside some time to just sit at His feet and worship. He really can get you through…and He’s the only one who can!
6.) Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help. If your depression is something that you just can’t seem to shake, is very severe, or lasts longer than winter, then I would encourage you to seek help. Being sad all the time isn’t something God intended us to live with. Sometimes He puts people in our lives to help us along the path. Whether it be through medications, herbs, or counseling, help can be found for our sadness. Just know, you don’t have to go it alone! Sometimes the best medicine on an Eeyore day is just talking through it with someone. Whatever the case, don’t hesitate to ask for help from others!
Will you join me this winter in combating the winter doldrums? That’s a pit I just don’t want to enter again.