10 Ideas for a Wonderful Winter (& to Conquer the Doldrums)

Posted on January 27, 2022 at 7:00 am

By Abra Cole

Wintertime can be beautiful, calming, and quiet. But it can also bring on the doldrums, especially now that the festive holiday season is over.

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of being human. There is nothing unusual about it. However, if your feelings are disrupting your daily life and keeping you from doing the things you love, it might be more than simple seasonal sadness.

Also, if you’ve already gone off track on your New Year’s resolutions, I hope you give yourself a break. This post is all about ideas for ways to take care of yourself. I’m not a medical professional, so please consult with those on your medical team before making changes to your diet or exercise routine.

In cases of emergency: Dial 911.

If you find yourself in crisis, you can find help from national and local help lines shared in a previous post by my colleague.

And you can get help from a volunteer crisis counselor by texting HOME to 741741, or by calling 1.800.273.8255.

Below are some ideas that you could try to help lift your mood when you find it down in the doldrums.

Keeping a Normal Sleep Routine

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try to keep to your routine as close to regular as possible.

Not sure when you should go to bed? Try a sleep calculator to help you discover the sleep you need. For this simple calculator, you enter your age and when you want to wake up, and it shares four options for when to go to bed in order to get different amounts of sleep cycles.

Staying Active

Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of physical activity can improve your mood.

When you don’t feel like bundling up to go out into the chilly air, consider listening to music that gets you moving. Dancing around your living room will also help release those endorphins!

Music CDs to check out:

Eating Healthy Foods

Some foods have been found to provide needed nutrients to lift depression, such as fatty fish, bananas, or dark chocolate. Also, be sure to get your recommended amounts of fruits and veggies, as these will contribute to lifted mental health.

Books to check out:

Eating Comfort Foods Too

Yes, healthy foods are good for our bodies and minds. But sometimes, familiar comforting meals that may not be quite as healthy will help lift spirits too. As wisdom has taught us: “Everything in moderation.”

Books on our shelves:

Consuming Comfort Media

Returning to your favorite TV shows, movies, and novels can be comforting. In this unpredictable world we live in, familiarity can help calm anxiety and lift depression.

Since you’ve already watched or read your favorites and know what is in store for the characters, you have nothing to fear from re-experiencing these stories.

If you prefer new-to-you material, graphic novels can be both thought-provoking and entertaining. There are several authors who address mental health, such as Sarah Andersen, Allie Brosh, and Christopher Grady

Or try some light new-to-you fiction, such as Carl Hiaasen or Douglas Adams, and humorous biographies from comedians such as Jenny Lawson.

Memes can also be a fun and lighthearted way to de-stress, as well as a great way to connect with friends. Have a meme-off via text to see who can come up with the most hilarious memes, or challenge everyone in your family group text to communicate using only memes for one week.

Comfort media is whatever you find comfort in, hence the name. If horror and suspense novels bring a thrilling edge that lifts your spirits, read on!

Books you may want to try:

Connecting with Others

Connecting with others can take a bit more effort during winter and can be doubly difficult during a pandemic.

You can talk to friends and/or family over the phone and combine connecting in person with physical activity by inviting someone out for a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

Connect with people who have your same interests by finding a discussion server on a topic that interests you on websites such as Discord (group chatting service) or Twitch (interactive streaming service).

If these sites are new to you, you can learn more about Discord on LinkedIn Learning, a digital resource with online training on lots of topics. The course titled, “Trending Tools,” covers Discord and many other virtual platforms. You can learn more about Twitch by visiting YouTube and searching for videos using terms such as “Basics of using Twitch.”

Books on our shelves:

Seeking the Sun

When you can, be outside in the sunshine. Even when the temperatures are cold, a small bit of sunshine can warm you inside and out (and help your body produce vitamin D).

Getting more sun exposure will increase your levels of serotonin, which will help fend off depression and even possibly reduce anxiety.

On our shelf: Chasing the Sun, by Linda Geddes

Channeling Your Inner Yeti

When I moved to Seattle, I quickly learned that if I wasn’t prepared for the wet weather, I wasn’t going to get my requisite outside time. So, I acquired the necessary seasonal gear—boots, rain jacket, hat, etc.—and I prepared myself to spend time out in the damp.

This applies to Spokane as well, though our weather can be more extreme. The cold temperatures and wet, icy, or snowy weather don’t care about our grumpy moods. So we can only do what we can to deal with weather and try to feel happy while outside instead.

Books on our shelves:

Planning Something Fun

This can be as simple as browsing a seed catalog and deciding on spring gardening plans.

Or perhaps you would enjoy taking virtual tours of campgrounds.

Or browse the homes that are available on Airbnb. The site and app for Airbnb offer an option when viewing listings to “go anywhere, anytime” that can lead you down a fantastic rabbit hole of potential adventure.

Books on our shelves:

Doing Nothing – Sometimes

One thing that can add to depression is the stress of failing, or perceiving failures. Did you have a mile-long list of things to do today? If the first thing was “to make long list,” then you can cross it off!

Consider giving yourself a break and add “do nothing” to the list. Allow yourself to chill out once in a while. It really does benefit your mind to not use it all the time!

You can sit back, snuggle up, and aim for feeling calm. I’m not suggesting you sit and worry about all the things you should be accomplishing. Rather, put on some soothing music or white noise, grab a blanket, and hang out by a window. Watch the world go by and relax a little bit.

That mile-long list will be there when you get back from your daydreams. 

Books on our shelves:

I hope these ideas spark even more ideas that help you defeat the winter doldrums and enjoy the colder months!

Abra Cole

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