3 Simple Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
If your mood is low, these lifestyle tweaks can help you feel cozier and happier.
If during the winter months you feel irritable, moody, or depressed, you may be part of the 20% of the population who deals with the “winter blues” or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
There’s a good reason for your sluggishness: The lack of daylight throws off the body’s circadian rhythm, and when this “master clock” gets out of whack, our brain doesn’t receive signals to be alert and focused. Instead, it may seek temporary energy fixes through snacks, caffeine, or alcohol.
When you’re in the midst of a winter slump, it can feel like a case of the Mondays on repeat. While adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and fitting in exercise are tantamount to boosting your mood when you’re not feeling your best, there are plenty of other small tweaks that can help bust through the winter blues and get your hustle back.
If you’re feeling totally uninspired right now, try these simple and quick ways to inject a boost of energy into your day and turn your winter slump around:
1. Put effort into getting dressed for work.
When it’s freezing outside and you can’t imagine moving from your warm bed to the bathroom in the morning, getting dressed to the nines for the office is usually the last thing you want to do. You crave the softest, coziest clothes imaginable.
While this does have a soothing effect, opting for frumpier frocks can negatively impact and dampen your mood. In fact, studies show there’s a connection between dressing up in your favorite clothes and daily happiness levels.
What you wear affects how you feel, so during the winter months try not to cut corners on your daily beauty or fashion routine.
2. Try a negativity detox.
When were feeling depressed, we have the tendency to fixate on negative thoughts. Maybe you review mistakes you made over and over or find yourself incessantly focusing on everything you don’t like about your job.
One of the best ways to get off the negativity train is by nixing the 4 toxic C’s:
Any time you feel yourself engaging in one of these unhealthy behaviors, redirect your energy.
For example, if you’re beating yourself up about a glaring typo you made on an important report for the CEO, move from a place of self-criticism to self-compassion by asking yourself what you can learn from the experience (rather than focusing on your faults).
Maybe you’ll realize you’re overwhelmed and a need a mental health day, or perhaps you can enlist the help of your work BFF to act as a second set of eyes and proofread things for you.
When you shift from a destructive to a constructive mindset, you may be pleasantly surprised by all the subtle–yet major–changes you’ll experience.
3. Bookend your days.
There’s no question that a powerful morning routine can set a positive tone for a highly energized and upbeat day. Some of the world’s most successful people attribute their massive productivity to morning rituals like a daily meditation practice, keeping a gratitude journal, or working in peace for an hour at the start of the day before checking email.
Aim to create a ritual that not only excites and motivates you, but that also provides structure and purpose to the first one to two hours of your day.
The same goes for your evenings: Create a nighttime routine that helps you wind down and clear your head, such as banning electronic devices after 10 p.m. or jotting down your top priorities for the next day.
Want to give your work-life balance a much needed boost? Schedule after-hours activities so you have a reason to avoid procrastination and leave the office on time. Natural sunlight isn’t regulating your cycles, so it’s up to you to put in place structure yourself.
In the end it’s all about perspective. In time your winter funk will pass. Keep in mind these strategies and you’ll be well on your way to brighter days.
Melody Wilding teaches human behavior at The City University of New York and is a nationally recognized Master Coach who distills psychological insights into actionable career advice. A licensed social worker trained at Columbia University, she’s helped thousands of professional women and female entrepreneurs master their mindset and emotions for greater success. Melody has worked with CEOs and executives running top startups along with published authors and media personalities.
Originally published at levo.com on February 16, 2015