Fifteen years ago, I moved to the Pacific Northwest where winters are long, cold and dark. Winter had always been a bit difficult to get through, but after living through my first PNW winter, I felt like the winter was never going to end.
Anyone can be susceptible to the winter blues, a drop in energy, vitality and joy, and in a particularly dark year, some of us even suffer from full-blown S.A.D.
For many people, this sluggish depressed feeling can lead to inertia. It becomes harder and harder to get up and go about our daily tasks.
So one year, I decided to become proactive before the darkness hit and made a “to-do list” for those particularly difficult days. One of the hardest parts about the winter blues is that you think it is never going to end, and then you become hopeless and action becomes difficult. The key to this list is to keep it handy, like on your refrigerator, and to pick one thing and just DO IT. The most important thing to remember is to stay in this moment and do the next right thing, right now:
1. Get out in nature. This can be as simple as walking around the block, taking a drive or going to the park or as complicated as a ski trip, a bike ride or a chilly golf game.
2. Build a fire. It is amazing what a roaring fire and a cup of hot chocolate will do for your mood.
3. Snuggle with a buddy. This could be a pet, a stuffed animal, a friend, a child or a lover. Take your pick.
4. Help someone else. There’s always someone in more need than you are, volunteering is a great way to lift your spirits.
5. Comfort Food. For me it’s spaghetti. Make your version of a comfort food, maybe something you bake. Warm up your kitchen and warm up your heart.
6. Go to a movie. No not on your TV, get out of your house and go to the movies, add some popcorn and forget yourself.
7. Meet a friend for coffee or tea. Again, get out of your home and laugh over old times, cry over current issues or just listen to your friend’s life. Get the focus out of your own head, and put it on the table.
8. Do some sun salutations. Get your yoga on. Sun salutations are warming, energizing and centering. Good for your body too!
9. Cut a rug. Turn on your favorite dance tunes and get busy. Increase your heart rate and dance your way to joy.
10. Do some self-care. Run a bath, light some candles, throw in some bath salts and relax. Follow it with a pedicure, facial or other spa treatment of your choice.
It doesn’t matter which one of these you do or how many you do. Start at the top and work your way down if you need to. The important thing is to get up and move physically to a different place.