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5 tips for getting through the emotional sludge of winter

Lauren S.

It feels like it’s been winter forever. Logically, I know that spring is on its way, and that fall happened not too long ago—but I can’t shake the sensation that it’s been cold, gray, and dark for ages. It wears me down and leaves me with the desire to do nothing more than curl under the blankets and refuse to emerge until spring.

In this article

  • Meditate
  • Take care of yourself
  • Focus on others
  • Shake it up
  • Keep it in perspective

While many of us are simply burned out from the holidays, end-of-the-year projects, and a serious lack of pool parties, these winter blues can actually be indicative of something more serious. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects up to 10 million individuals during the dark winter months, leaving them feeling depressed until the days become longer and sunnier. If you think you may suffer from SAD, speak with a medical professional. For less severe winter blues, there’s still plenty you can do yourself. Here are some tips and tricks for fighting the melancholy during those damp and dreary months.

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1. Meditate

Getting stuck in your own head—particularly when the thoughts are sad or anxious—can often result in a bad mood spiral. Trying not to get bogged down by negativity is often easier said than—unless you have the right tools at your disposal. A little meditation can do wonders for your mood by clearing your mind and letting you start off fresh. It can quiet your anxiety, elevate your attitude, and give you the motivation you need to get through this winter season. And if your focus has suffered due to the midwinter blues, a short 10-minute meditation exercise may boost your mood, lift your spirits, or just make you feel a little more prepared to step outside in that cold winter sludge.

2. Take care of yourself

It’s easy to run yourself ragged taking care of the people you love. When you add in work and the rigors of daily life, suddenly spending a few minutes on yourself seems close to impossible. But it’s important to schedule some ‘you time’ every day, even if it’s just a few minutes to meditate or sit quietly with a hot cup of tea. Sitting under a sun lamp, reading a few pages of your favorite book, whatever it takes to turn off the world for a few minutes— it will be there when you get back.

3. Focus on others

Instead of getting bogged down by how cold it is or how much you don’t want to do anything, try turning your thoughts to others. After all, they’re stuck in this unpleasant weather too, and it’s been shown that being kind to others can improve your mood. Communicate with the people in your life. See if they’re struggling, or if they’ve worked out ways to cope. Even if their ideas don’t work for you, talking about the midwinter blues can keep them from seeming overwhelming.

4. Shake it up

Be mindful of how your mood changes through the day. Do you wake up cheerful, only to slump by the end of the day? Do you have the doldrums before you even roll out of bed? Now’s the time to try changing up your routine. Sometimes getting stuck in a rut can make us feel trapped (particularly when the weather isn’t exactly providing a mood boost). If your routine is wearing you down and leaving you grumpy, make some modifications. Try hitting the gym in the morning instead of the night, or starting the day with a quick meditation exercise. See what pumps you up and gets you through the day, and what isn’t working. Even the trial and error part of the process can keep you focused and feeling better.

5. Keep it in perspective

Winter is a particularly rough time for some people. Try not to beat yourself up about it, or tear yourself down for feeling bad. Be mindful of your physical and mental well-being, and seek out help if you need it. Spring sunshine is on the horizon.

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