Winter has been a long time coming here in New York. It was seventy degrees on Christmas Eve! It was horrible. I know, I know…most people were rejoicing but I am a firm believer that when it’s winter it should be cold. Call me old fashion. It’s ironic that I would be so against such warm weather in the winter considering I inevitably always end up having to combat the winter blues by mid-January. But it’s starting to look like winter is here and ready to get on with the show.
Last year was a particularly bad winter for me. It was so cold for the majority of the winter and we had nickle-and-dime type snow storms that kept the kids and I in the house most of the days. On the days we went to school and the gym, I was spent for the rest of the day from the effort of dressing and corralling two small kids from the house to the car to the school/gym and back. Just thinking about it now makes me tired. I was irritable and very “blah” last winter. By the time I realized just how crappy I was feeling, it was late February, early March and I decided to just ride it out until the weather got warmer. Probably not my best idea but I managed. This year is a different story though. I don’t want to end up in a deficient and have to climb out of the hole so I’ve come up with a few ways to combat the winter blues.
Get The Right Amount of Sleep
Sleep is a huge thing for me. If I don’t get enough, I can guarantee that my anxiety will be more difficult to manage the next day, which bleeds into all areas of my life. On the other end of the spectrum, if I get too much sleep I’m essentially a slug for the day. I can never find the boost that gets me going. So the trick for me is finding that sweet spot. Getting enough sleep is the easier part of this equation. I make an effort to be in bed by 10:30 or 11 each night and I rarely have trouble falling asleep. Waking up is another story though. I could sleep all day if I really wanted to, some mornings I’ve stumbled downstairs with just enough time to see Tim out the door. Instead, I’ve been forcing myself to wake up with Tim three times a week and hit the gym while he’s getting ready for the day. Sure it’s a struggle in those first ten minutes but by the time I’ve walked to the gym I’m wide awake for the day. And on the days that I don’t go to the gym, I try not to sleep past seven.
Get Outside and Interact With People
My biggest mistake last winter was hunkering down in our house and limiting my interaction with people to the few minutes at school pickup and drop off. Working from home and asking Tim to pick up an item or two on his way home from work never created a need for me to leave the house. I have a good amount of friends that live on the internet and I kept in regular communication with them but you really can’t eliminate face-to-face interaction. Even on the coldest days this year, which granted have been few and far between, I’ve tried to get out of the house to run small errands so I feel like I accomplished something and spoke to another human being. Being outside has the added benefit of getting sun exposure which is linked to having more energy and a more stable mood.
Hit the Gym
I’m a big believer in the gym. I used to attempt to workout at home but there was never enough motivation for me. Now that I’m spending $400 a year on a membership, I make it a priority to get my butt over there at least three times a week. Making it the first thing I do in the morning has been great. I’ve already started my day and marked something off my to-do list by 7:30 a.m. and I double down because I’ll have talked to at least one person while at the gym. Going to the gym wasn’t enough for me last year, even with daycare for the kids, I fell into a rut and was bored which again left me feeling “blah”. This year, I’m working towards a goal and I’ve been switching up my routine to keep things fresh.
Make an Effort
I got super lazy last winter. I’m not sure if it was a contributing factor to struggling so much or if it was a symptom but once I got in the habit of putting forth the bare minimal effort it was there to stay for a good long while. I would dress in yoga pants and sweatshirts and tie my hair back and in all honesty that’s essentially my pajama wardrobe; so yeah, I wore my pajamas every day for three months straight. On the occasions that I did put forth some effort in my appearance I felt like a completely different person. I also let a lot of things around the house slide. Laundry would pile up until we were down to our last clean pairs of underwear. I would put off dinner until the very last minute or not cook at all and order out dinner after the kids went to bed. This year I’ve been making an effort to put on clothes that I could run out of the house at a moment’s notice and not be embarrassed to be seen in, stick to my meal plan, and not let out house slide into chaos and possible nudity.
Don’t Over Do It
Whether it’s a resolution or a change to some less than great habits, it’s best not to go from zero to one hundred right away. I think I set goals for myself at the beginning of 2015 and I’m sure if I did I failed miserably at them because I don’t ease into things; it’s all or nothing for me. This leads to feelings of failure and then I get down on myself and next thing you know I’m in my pajamas at three in the afternoon eating chocolate by the bar because my New Year’s resolution of eating clean and doing a two hour workout at the gym everyday fell apart by January 5th. I’ve also told myself that it’s okay not to say “yes” to every single thing that comes my way. I can still be viewed as reliable if I decline something things because I can’t or don’t want to do take it on. The winter months are when I need a lot of extra mental resources and acknowledging this need gives me the “okay” to take it easy on myself.
I gladly welcomed eleven degrees yesterday morning. I’m not dreading the winter this year. I feel prepared to combat the winter blues and not let an entire season of my life just go by in one big “blah”.