What do you do when you’re in a winter slump?

What do you do when you’re in a winter slump?

And suddenly, you’re awoken by a sound that steals you from sweet sleep: The morning alarm. 

And with it, a mental grayness enwraps your mind like low-hanging winter clouds. 

For many people living in colder climates, winter can fill each day with a set of challenges that go beyond putting on enough layers or keeping our driveways cleared. In fact, a general sense of stress, sadness, and loneliness is not uncommon for many people this time of year. We can, however, confront our winter blues with a perspective that leaves room for self-compassion, grace, and self-improvement. It is important to remember that the winter funk is manageable. 

Below are five helpful tips to help you not only beat the blues, but to enjoy this time of year again!

Create Your Inner Sunlight

Studies have shown that lower levels of happiness that accompany the winter months are commonly due to low levels of Vitamin D, a key component that our bodies need to regulate our mood.  While we primarily receive this vitamin from the abundance of summer sunshine, you can still generate a sustainable amount of Vitamin D by spending as little as twenty minutes outside (enough time to take a walk around the block, drink a cup of warm coffee, or call a friend).

Take Advantage of the Season

Though the winter blues usually peak once the holiday decor has been returned to storage, cooler temperatures offer a new opportunity for reflection thanks to more time spent in the quiet of one’s own home. Take advantage of this time by investing in yourself. Simply writing down three things that you were grateful for today can generate a spirit of peace. And, without the distractions that seem to abound in the summer,  we can use this time to get into a healthy sleep cycle, which has been scientifically proven to combat a low mood during the winter. 

Plug In

The pandemic has shown us the resilience of the human spirit to connect with others even while apart. This winter, opt to get involved in an array of online communities that are abundantly available across the internet. Virtual support and social groups like book clubs, writing circles, studying groups, ceramic clubs, and more are mere clicks away. 

Remind Yourself That You’re Not Alone

For over 10 million Americans, the winter funk is more pernicious than a general sense of boredom or wistful longing for summer. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that presents itself in cycles, first appearing in winter, with symptoms naturally subsiding by early spring. If most days you find yourself unable to enjoy your normal routine, feeling hopeless, unmotivated, or notice changes in your diet or eating, we encourage individuals to advocate for themselves by reaching out for support. While shame wants to keep us isolated, this winter, we at Mercy Home encourage every person to ask for help when they need it. SAD is treatable and manageable through psychotherapy, medication, and even technologically advanced sun lamps that offer relief from endless days of gray. More information regarding SAD can be found here.

Cultivate Gratitude

Before bed, spend the solitude of a winter’s night in a state of gratitude. Tonight, you are so grateful for how your children helped with the dishes and the way they thoughtfully peeled off their snowshoes before running inside. You’re grateful for the calm silence that echoes after the heavy snowstorm.  You are grateful for a home in every possible sense. For the home, you’re building in yourself and the home you find in others because it is like a warm fire that makes each winter’s day a little bit brighter. 

Tonight, you are so grateful for winter because of the consistency that can be found in myriad ways. For the predictable cold. For the predictable gray. For the predictable ice. But what is predictable most of all, is the way winter and the winter funk inevitably melt, with the first budding of leaves upon the trees, into spring. 

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