Everyone wants to tell you 10 ways to put the winter blues to bed. But 10 seems like just too many to remember when these simple 3 are so effective. Not only are these methods supported by science, they’ve been tried and tested by yours truly.
Hey, are you free?
There’s nothing like isolation to make winter feel exponentially worse. Cold and wet weather, shorter daylight hours, and fewer incentives to get outside in nature can make you feel like hibernating with a gallon of ice cream in one hand and a TV remote in the other. Every day. But that’s exactly the wrong thing to do if you hope to find happiness and peace of mind during these difficult winter months. Meeting friends or making new friends at local events or cafes, maintaining regular phone calls with friends and family out of state, and even planning simple things like grocery shopping or dog walking with a friend can have a huge, positive impact on how you feel about all other aspects of your life. In fact, just talking to a friend when you’re feeling the winter doldrums coming on can help curb your cravings for fatty, sugar-laden foods destined to make you feel worse once they’re consumed. We humans are social animals, meant to live and thrive in groups. So reach out to your friends and loved ones, and watch your winter blues melt away.
Got winter boots?
Speaking of getting out and getting social, it’s always a great idea to get active in the winter—especially outside. Even a short walk around the block can do wonders to lift a dragging mood and droopy eyelids in the winter. Even better would be a walk through winter wonderland with a friend or neighbor (see above), or a trip to a local park to make snow angels. My favorite routine is to walk the long way to the train when I’m headed downtown. My “long route” leads me through a quiet neighborhood with wide sidewalks (that are sometimes actually shoveled!) and nary a car in sight. It’s a brief but perfect opportunity for me to exercise my lungs while stretching my legs and putting my fashionable, but warm, winter boots to the test. The real trick to staying active in the winter is, after all, weather-proof clothing. If you’re like me, living in Chicago, you’ve got to get familiar with the long-underwear-and-warm-socks routine. It makes just about any Chicago wind tolerable during these good mood–inducing, outdoor jaunts. And really, if you’re weather-averse, going to the gym or indulging in a lovely yoga practice will do almost as much to get your endorphins pumping and calm your stress hormones. If you can get your sweat on while looking out a window and catching a glimpse of the great outdoors, even better.
Vacation, you say?
Hands down my favorite way to beat the winter blues is to have a trip to look forward to. Something, anything, to remind me that there is sunshine shining somewhere, and that I will be out in it (wearing my favorite sandals and sun hat) before long! A winter getaway need not be expensive or lengthy: Most airlines offer last-minute weekend deals to sunny climes. And with services like Airbnb and Couchsurfing, you can find a great bargain on lodging and potentially make new friends during your trip. I might be biased, but I am a big fan of the full-on, escape-from-life getaway. Last year, I started leading yoga and wellbeing retreats in Puglia, Italy—the sunniest part of the country, surrounded on three sides by beaches. So when I am working away in March, watching the snow and ice fly outside my window, I know that in a few short weeks I’ll be indulging in local Italian wine, soaking up the Mediterranean sun, and generally forgetting that winter is even a real season. So use those vacation days, Career Girls! They’re yours for the taking. And according to all indications, that vacation you book is just plain great for your health, your relationships, and your work-life as well.
Winter blues? Bah! Career Girls got ‘em beat.