Living in the Northeast, the winters can feel quite dark and cold and those winter blues can easily settle in after all the holiday rush has calmed.  I was noticing in myself in this past week that icky slump after having had a virus the week before, causing me to struggle with motivation, fatigue and blues.  It is COLD outside and dark by the time I end my work day and my bed calls to me.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, a very real thing for many, often  starts in fall or winter and ends in spring or early summer. SAD may affect 11 million people in the U.S. each year, and 25 million more may have a milder form called the winter blues.  If you are feeling this, you are not alone.

The first step to taking action and stepping away from the blues and towards more happy is to acknowledge you are feeling this way.  Release shame or judgment around how you are feeling.  Then lay out some action steps.  I know how challenging these can be as those covers call to you to pull them over your head but once you begin taking action, you will feel better and better.

Here are a few of my top tips for getting out of the winter funk:

  1. Get outside and go for a walk.  The sunlight (or even gray skies with snowflakes falling), movement and fresh air automatically lifts your spirits and invigorates.  I love my cozy blankets and hot tea and often times have to talk myself into getting outside but once I do, I never regret it and always feel so much better.  Even better, find an accountability buddy to do your walking with.  My husband and dog are two of my regulars.  Layers are a blessing in the cold so bundle on up and get moving
  2. Meet a friend for a walk, coffee or lunch date at least once a week.  Connecting with other humans face to face, laughing and conversing uplifts the soul.  Having regular dates on your calendar can provide positive bright spots in your week!  Today I have a lunch and movie date to see Redeeming Love with a bunch of girlfriends and Wednesday morning I walk with two local friends and these dates have me anticipating joy!
  3. Seek light, literally and figuratively.  Sitting by windows that shine in more sun, using a happy light-box such as this one in the morning or on your desk as you work, and as I mentioned, getting outside, are ways to get more actual light into your eyes as lack of light in the winter is one of the reasons for SAD.  1 John 1:5  states, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”  Finding ways to experience more God in your days will bring you into His Light and out of that darkness.  For me this is most often found in worship music (I have a Soul Food playlist on Spotify; anything by Elevation Worship, Lauren Daigle, NEED TO BREATHE and Zach Williams usually gets my heart singing), spending time intentionally expressing gratitude as I scan for God in my days, and time in His Word.
  4. Nourish your body with dense nutrition.  More veggies, less processed junk.  Protein and healthy fats with each meal will help balance blood sugar and when you are already feeling blue, the last thing you want is blood sugar swings.  As tempting as alcohol can be when feeling low, it can have a rebound affect as well as alcohol decreases GABA leaving you feeling even lower the next day.

These are all ways to intentionally show yourself love and care and can help you shift from funky to happy.