10 Tips to Beat the Winter “Blahs”

As the season changes, many people experience changes in mood, energy, sleep, and hunger patterns. Like the earth, our bodies and minds gravitate toward restoration, yet society continues at a bustling pace.

It’s no wonder that during these seasons we experience more contrast between the shift in our internal energy and the continued societal demand to maintain a dizzying pace; now more than ever as the official holiday shopping season comes into full swing. For some people, this contrast becomes deeply rooted during fall and winter, resulting in seasonal depression that usually clears in the spring, but can last even longer here in Seattle with our extended gray, dreary weather.

During the winter season, we are expected to continue at the same pace we did when there was more light and the weather was warmer. To help balance the shift of seasons, consider these 10 tips to help you create space to embrace rest and restoration during the upcoming winter months.

1. Maximize the light you have.

Open curtains, remove screens, clean windows, and trim back tree branches to let in more light. Find a bright location in your home where you can sit or lie down to soak in the sun’s energy. Rearrange furniture in east- or south-facing rooms to maximize natural light. Embrace the natural light, however limited, to help start off the day on the right foot.

2. Reduce obligations that add stress to your life.

Be mindful of what things are necessary and fulfilling. Let go of those things that cause you to feel overextended.

3. Embrace moments of rest.

If you (like most of us) need to maintain a busy schedule through the winter, give yourself permission to absorb and be grateful for moments of rest. It will help you get through the busy moments.

4. Enjoy sunrises and sunsets.

Witness and appreciate the warm, vivid colors of sunrise and sunset. At sunrise, create your intention for the day.

5. Emphasize gratitude.

Consider everything there is to appreciate this time of year. Cuddle up under a blanket, savor warm foods and drinks, and watch your kids or pets revel in the pure joy of the season.

6. Keep active and get outside.

Change up your routine to include lower impact activities that align with the slowing, restorative pace of winter. Yoga, stretching, and walking are great ways to stay active. Walking outside, even for five minutes, will invigorate the mind, body, heart, and spirit. The crisp air and exposure to natural light will bolster your mood, energy, and physical well-being.

7. Engage in meaningful social contact.

Fall and winter are great times to engage and reconnect with friends and family. Look at every celebration and holiday get-together as a blessing and opportunity to re-establish relations. Whether with friends or family, create meaningful connections at every gathering.

8. Soothe your body.

Take a bath (or shower). Baths give you warmth and nurturing while allowing your body a chance to rest and relax more deeply.

9. Enjoy warm drinks and foods.

Our bodies crave comfort foods when it’s cold, so discover recipes that offer comfort while still providing nourishment. Soup, chili, tea, and other warm foods will provide internal warmth and satisfaction. Feed the soul.

10. Seek professional support.

Speak to naturopath, nutritionist or counselor if you’re regularly experiencing depression — whether seasonal or otherwise. Discuss with your practitioner whether you would benefit from adding dietary supplements or light therapy to help boost your mood. Meet with a therapist to help process your mental, emotional, and relational factors that may also be contributing to a change in mood.

Whatever your method for keeping in balance this winter, stick to routines that serve your inner self and ditch those that don’t, because in the end you’re the only one who knows what is best for YOU.