13 Things You Can Do To Make The Winter A Little Less Awful
Winter is coming.
OMFG, winter can suck so bad. In my opinion, that is.
Maybe you enjoy having only a few desperate, daily hours of weak sunlight, the sniffles for a hundred days starting the day after Halloween, skin that feels like a crumpled paper bag, Sahara-dry hair, and being shut inside for months while everything around you withers and dies. Is that your jam? It’s not mine.
I call it seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or just that winter sucks. I know a lot of you are with me on this. Let’s grab that freezing cold bull by the horns, and identify how we can push back against the winter-related problems that affect us inside and out.
1. Buy a light box
For the love of all that is wintry, make this the season that you buy a light box to help with seasonal-related depression. It’s easy to talk about (“maybe I should buy a light box, I get so bummed in the winter” — I hear this all the time) but the best thing you can do is actually purchase a light box and…
2. Use the damn thing
Merely buying a light box won’t help with the winter blues. You have to actually practice light therapy. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive (depending on the light box you choose), and personally I find it very relaxing and — by the way — totally effective. Like, as in science says so.
3. Know the holiday blues
Whatever you celebrate, even if it’s no specific holiday in particular, know that it’s a tough season for a lot of people and has the potential to create or exacerbate depression and anxiety. Acknowledge this and plan accordingly, because there are ways you can beat the holiday blues.
4. Practice smart sleeping
You might be sleeping a wee bit too much, or waking up in the middle of the night, or having trouble getting any Zzs at all. Good sleep is really important for your health, both physical and emotional. Practice smart sleeping by getting to sleep at a reasonable time, sleeping comfortably (perhaps it’s time for a pillow upgrade?), and getting through the night (hint: don’t wake up to check your smartphone!).
5. Stay healthy
This one is easier said than done, for sure, what with strangers open-mouth-coughing right in your face during the morning commute, or in the next cubicle. You can’t control if someone covers their mouth when they cough, or force surgical masks on people who insist on coming in to work with the sickies. The only person you can control is you, so practice smart sleeping (again, essential for your health), wash your hands a lot, and do whatever little particular things help you feel ready to battle various bugs, viruses, and infections. That means gathering your weapons…
6. Gather weapons for battle
My particular weapons in the battle against the sickies include vitamin C (proven to be an antioxidant and long believed, without scientific backup, to help prevent colds or make them go away); zinc, elderberry syrup as a cold and flu remedy (people swear by it, it tastes good, and why the hell not? I’ll take a placebo effect, no problemo); and Emergen-C, a fizzy drink powder that’s supposed to boost your immune system and general health.
7. Get out, get out, for god’s sake, get out!
One of the things I hate about the winter is being cooped up indoors because the weather outside is so shitty. Or maybe you want to get out and get together with friends, but someone always has a cold. Trust me, just get outside anyway unless you have some horrible communicable illness that might classify you as a public health hazard. (If you just have a cold, get out — but cough into the crook of your elbow, please!) Go for a walk, to the library, a museum, a local park, go out to eat… just get out!
8. Maybe even get out of town
I’m not going to suggest that you beat the winter blues by going on vacation to, like, Hawaii. Duh, going to Hawaii would be helpful but it’s not economically feasible for everyone. However, sometimes just a minor change of scenery can be helpful during the winter months. For example, I live in NYC. And there’s a world of difference between the dirty dog-pee snow on the curbs, and the sparkling wonderland of upstate New York, just a mere hour and a half away.
9. Hydrate inside and out
It can be such a downer to have dry, scaly, cracked, sometimes even bleeding skin. An ashy complexion, suddenly wrinkly hands — yup, that sucks! Choose your favorite moisturizer or hydrating oil and slather it on. Don’t forget to drink water, too — that helps keep you hydrated inside and out.
10. Hone your hair health
Eating healthy is part of your everyday wellness routine, 365 days a year (possibly with the exception of a Halloween candy binge during the week of October 31 through November 7). But also keep in mind that there are foods you can eat to strengthen your hair and nails (which may be especially in need during the harsh weather), and you can pamper your locks with products that smooth and soften dry and damaged hair.
11. Embrace the winter mani
It’s not about the polish or the nail art (although winter manicures are lots of fun), it’s about keeping your nails healthy. Dry, split nails and ragged cuticles are a typical problem during the winter months. Eat healthy (see above), moisturize, and steer clear of harsh chemicals and treatments.
12. Rock your cutest winter wear
I’m sorry if this seems trifling, but one of the fun parts of winter is bundling up in your cutest cold-weather duds. For me, that’s a fair isle sweater, skinny jeans, and duck boots — not to mention my coziest hat, scarf, and gloves combo. Enjoy your fave winter wear (and if you don’t have any, it’s time to go shopping!).
13. Do your happy things
I saved this one for last because it’s very important. We all have activities, projects, approaches, etc. that make us feel better when we’re blue. Everyone has their own happy thing. Maybe it’s baking brownies (and eating them), knitting, watching a chick flick (or a bloody horror movie, or a Lisbeth Salander joint), going for a mani/pedi, taking a yoga class, jogging, reading a trashy novel (or literary fiction)… and so on. Remember your happy things. Write them down if you need to so that you can refer to them easily when you’re feeling down.
And don’t forget that winter will pass, bringing summer with it (cue article by me on how to deal with the summer heat and choosing the best sunscreen). As John Steinbeck wrote, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
Images via pexels.com
Comment: What’s your fave tip for beating the winter blues?