Beating the Winter Blahs

A lot of people are feeling down right now.  Winter has been dragging on and lots of us have been housebound and sun-deprived.  Kids have cabin fever, parents are stressed about economic worries and the world tends towards gray and dreary.

I’ve been battling winter blahs myself lately.  It seems like this time of year always gets to me.  I am not a fan of 5 months of cold and gray.  :) 

Here’s some things that help pick me up…

  • Simmer a big pot of water on the stove all day and dump in anything that smells good (spices, potpourri, fruit peels, a few drops of essential oils…).  It will help beat those winter colds, humidify the air and lift your spirits with heavenly scents.  Likewise, bake something that both smells and tastes fabulous.
  • Take advantage of the sunshine and get outside for a while with the kids, even if it’s cold.  Sunlight really does affect our moods, and the fresh air will do you good.
  • Put on a favorite CD and dance with the kiddos.  The exercise will release feel-good endorphins, you’ll burn some calories and happy music can’t help but make a dent in even the grouchiest mood.
  • Call a friend who makes you laugh.
  • Get some perspective.  As tough as times are, most of us are still pretty darn lucky.  Spend 15 minutes reading the blog of a mom who’s just lost her child to cancer and you really remember what matters.
  • Ask for help.  If you’re overwhelmed with life, whether from a new baby or just juggling too much, it’s okay to lean on people.  Many people are happy to help if they know what you need.  Even if it’s just asking your hubby to watch all of the kids for an hour so you can soak in the bathtub, give people an opportunity to help.  Likewise, help others who need it.  It’s one of the quickest ways out of a funk for me.  If you feel you are seriously depressed, talk to a doctor or therapist.
  • Pamper yourself and your family.  Make comfort food, wear your coziest pajamas, watch favorite movies, sleep in, be especially nice to yourself and each other.
  • Get enough sleep.  Sleep deprivation affects everything from health to weight to mood.  It’s tempting to stay up late to catch up on things, but it’s vital to get all the sleep we can. 
  • Be especially loving.  When we’re feeling down, it tends to be contagious.  Chances are the rest of the family is too, and that leads to an endless loop of everybody dragging everybody farther down.  Be especially nice to your sweetie.  Give your kids extra hugs.  Tell them you love them and why.
  • Wear a colorful spring outfit or put on red lipstick, anything that makes you feel festive or pretty.  Unless you’re a dad. 😉
  • Be present.  Really pay attention to your children and take it all in.  We get so caught up in coping sometimes that we go on autopilot and next thing we know we’re wondering how our babies could possibly be so grown up.  Get down on their level and play.  Watch them sleep.  Listen to their funny laughs.  Pay attention when they ramble on while you’re trying to get the kitchen cleaned.  Better yet, stop cleaning and play.  As crazy-making as these times can be, some day they’ll be gone and chances are we’ll miss them. 
  • Laugh and smile, like it or not!  ;)  There’s something to the old saying "fake it till you make it."  Studies have shown that smiling really does make us feel happier and laughing is plain old good for you.
  • Make some changes.  We only get one life and it passes quickly.  Don’t coast through it or waste today waiting for tomorrow.  Fix the stuff that you can.  Make it good!  It’s worth the trouble. 🙂
  • Play.  One of the perks of parenthood is the excuse to do fun stuff with our children.  Play marbles or Hyper Dash (we love that game) or Uno or catch.  Build block towers.  Race Matchbox cars.  Make paper dolls.  Climb a tree.  Have a snowball fight.  Play with play dough.  Swing.  Finger paint.  Spin tops.  Do the hand jive.  Go sledding.  Have fun!  It’s good for you.

Last week I was in a real funk.  The week before that I was too, and the week before that. This week I have sailed down a sledding hill with a grinning toddler, played toilet paper toss in my kitchen, got together with friends, spent several hours in a park on a sunny day, colored with my kids and really got down and enjoyed my one year-old.  I feel better than I have in months.  I just might survive winter after all.

Oh yeah.  Chocolate helps too. 🙂

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