We’ve almost made it through the Winter Blues here in Australia but here are 5 quick tips to get you through the remainder of the cooler days when you really just want Summer to come along…
Alison, Barrett, founder of female mental wellbeing company, Girlspo+, shares how to shake those Winter blues to keep your positivity and motivation high when it’s chilly!
Most Australians are used to mild Winters and crazy hot Summers. This year I’ve found myself piling on a few extra layers of clothes, needing an extra dose of motivation and feeling a little on the dreary side. When the colder months roll in, I have to prepare myself with every tool I have, because no matter what I do or how hard I try to control it, I get an overwhelming storm cloud over my head that is tough to rid.
It takes me a little longer to complete tasks, I find it more difficult to hold a conversation, I have to really force myself to uphold social engagements, and I have to watch my habits from insatiable cravings for stuff… food, wine, clothes, shopping… just anything that makes me feel good in the short-term.
Luckily I now know how important it is to learn how to enjoy the rain, equip myself with a metaphorical umbrella and accept that like passing seasons, this too does pass.
So how do you get through the Winter when you can’t seem to feel like you’re in control of anything?
If you’re feeling a little down or notice a moment of anxiety, focus on some deep breathing. Breathe in for 8 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Do this 10 times and see how you feel. I find counting while I do this helps to become mindful and present. It really helps to slow things down as well.
Don’t rely on substances that wreak havoc on your brain chemistry. I find when I’m feeling in a slump, the first thing I want to reach for is sugar. Instead of sugar, choose foods rich in protein, good fats and healthy carbs. This will help balance out your insulin levels, so you won’t be continuously peaking and plummeting in mood. A lack of vitamin D and depression has been found to be linked. Cover your bases and take vitamin D every morning with breakfast.
It may be super tempting to skip social engagements for a night in on the couch in your slippers and a box set of Sex and the City. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you should hibernate. Organise outings you’ll look forward to, remember it’s extra hard to get going when you’re feeling a bit under the weather, but visualise how you’ll feel after seeing your friends and family. 90% of the time you leave feeling far better than when you started.
Motivation can be difficult to find in the colder months, and sleep-ins can be so incredibly tempting! No matter what you have on for the day, whether it’s work or the weekend, set a regular morning routine and stick to it. See it as your non-negotiable. It might include exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, reading for 20 minutes, going over your goals or catching up with a friend for coffee before work. Whatever it is, stick to it until it becomes a habit.
This is the “stop, drop and roll” move for the winter blues.
Step one. Accept you’re feeling a bit low and the weather probably has more than something to do with it. As you breathe in, make room inside of your head for how you are feeling. Give your feelings “breathing space”, literally.
Step two. Create a reason. Sometimes there might be a reason for feeling yuck. One reason might be changes in your brain chemistry and circadian rhythms (your sleep cycle) due to shorter days and longer nights. I find placing a “reason” that’s controllable (even if it’s not true!) can help me feel more empowered and enables me to take more action on purposeful activities.
Step three. Gently move your focus to something that interests you. Even if you’ve lost interest in it lately, but it’s usually something you love, make yourself do it. If it’s playing a musical instrument or playing sport, just start the activity and promise yourself to do it for 3 minutes.
These are just some pointers to get you started. If you’re feeling unwell or see changes in your mood, energy levels or stress, have a chat with your GP or local doctor.