Fight the Winter Blues

Posted March 27, 2013 by Monica O'Connell in Life After Five

Note: Monica O’Connell’s post “Fighting the Winter Blues” originally appeared on Career Girl Network in December 2012. But given that Spring 2013 seems to be taking its own sweet time, we thought you might need a reminder of how to get through the cold and dreary days!
For those of us in the Midwest, we’re adjusting to shorter and shorter days and less access to the sun. Our climate becomes cold, dry, and snowy.  Many people hustle their way from car to work to home and stay cooped up inside. It almost mimics winter hibernation. Due to the decrease of sunshine, the stress of the holidays, the cold weather, and the little time spent outdoors, some people get the winter blues. The following certainly isn’t a medical diagnosis, but they are some signs to check for. If you are experiencing these, seeing a doctor or therapist near you may be beneficial.

The Winter Blues:

  • Feeling lazy or sluggish a lot more often than you did this summer
  • Feeling frequently flighty or unable to pay attention
  • Being super sleepy, especially in the mornings (more so than usual)
  • Eating lots of carbs — Way more than usual and maybe gaining a few punds from this.
  • Spending less and less time with your favorite family and friends.

Noticing any of these? They’re super common in the dark, dark tundra of the Midwest. There are some easy ways to get out of this, but make sure you go to a doctor if these are getting to be super problematic for you!

  • Get your Vitamin D levels checked and talk with your doc about a Vitamin D supplement. We can be super low in Vitamin D because we don’t see much of the sun in the winter.
  • Get a sun lamp and commit to using it regularly.
  • Plan a warm weather vacation soon.
  • Bundle up and start getting more fresh air. Maybe it’s making a snowman, taking a hike, going sledding or skiing.
  • Find some outdoor hobbies to boost your energy levels. Some local sporting goods stores offer classes on outdoor activities: snowshoeing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough protein to keep your blood sugar level. Talk to a nutritionist/doc if you’ve got more questions about how to do that.
  • Force yourself to spend time with someone you like. Maybe you’re not going to commit to eight holiday parties if you’re feeling not so hot, but maybe you and your bestie can find a hot yoga class to do once a week. Hot yoga feels so good on a below-zero day.
  • Get your friends on board for a fun fitness goal and/or fun competition. Thirty days of yoga? Half marathon training for the spring? Two fitness classes/week?

I totally get that you might choose flip flops over Sorel winter boots. I do too. However, you don’t have to be miserable this winter. Beat the winter blues and take good care of yourself.

How do you make the winter toasty, warm, and fun?


About the Author

Monica O'Connell

Monica O’Connell is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her practice, she spends her career cheering on “Career Girls” as they learn how to get the most out of life. Monica works with arguably some of the most successful, intelligent, inspiring women in the Twin Cities who tackle self-discovery, career success, and what’s getting in the way of their true desires. She shares her favorite moments as those “best described not by words but by the stomach aching, face soreness that comes from spending an entire day laughing with loved ones.”