In recent years, I have developed a bit of a BEEF with winter. I always remember being a bit put off by dark winter nights (I’m fine with the days), but it took a while before I realized I REALLY didn’t like the short days. And last year I had some surgery in December and got a post-surgical infection in January, so I wasn’t really able to go out or do much for the two darkest months of the year…at which point I decided it was NONSENSE and started thinking about WHAT TO DO ABOUT WINTER. I started reading about it and making a PLAN.
I know a lot of you feel the same, so here is my list of WINTER TIPS. Some of them are KNOWN THINGS and some are MY LITTLE IDEAS—20 WAYS TO HELP YOU DEAL WITH WINTER.
1. GO OUTSIDE. I work from home, and I have a rule in all seasons—I have to go outside at least one hour a day. I call it my SUNSHINE WALK, and it makes me a normal. If you stay inside all the time, you may become an INSIDE MONSTER. Go out and walk around and expose yourself to the actual sky as much as you can.
It’s nice outside in winter. You’ll have fun.
2. EXERCISE. Yes, this is one of those they always say too but it REALLY WORKS. I particularly like yoga classes in the winter. My NEW JAM is AERIAL YOGA where you HANG FROM THE CEILING in a hammock. Why not try a NEW THING?
3. EAT WELL. If you have WINTER DROOPS, it really does help to eat some fruit and vegetables. And while I AM NOT A DOCTOR, so I CANNOT TELL YOU WHAT TO DO, I also take vitamin D and some extra Omega 3s.
4. ONE OF THOSE SUN LAMP THINGS. I have a blue light box on my desk, which I generally use for 30 minutes or so during winter mornings to help fight fatigue. I like it. I think it made a difference last year, when I couldn’t get out as much and I became convinced I might through a chair through a window if I stayed inside any longer.
5. HOT BATH MAGIC! Do you get all sore during winter? I do. I get that muscle ache. You can totally KICK THAT with a HOT BATH. And you don’t need no CRAZY EXPENSIVE STUFF for your bath. Get on over to the drug store and buy some EPSOM SALTS. They’re cheap. You can buy the slightly more expensive ones with lavender and chamomile and stuff in them, and those are STILL cheap. Like, $2-4 a bag. What I do is buy some big bags, then I have a JAR in my bathroom. I keep that jar full of the salts (which I mix up, some plain, some lavender, some camomile, whatever I’ve got). You put a cup or two in some hot water and grab a book and HEY! You’re in business. I have a window in my bathroom now, and what I like to do it OPEN IT so cold air comes in and in the hot bath I feel like I am in an OUTDOOR HOT TUB! (Or if you have a hot tub, I guess you could get in that.)
6. MEDITATION. It’s a real thing, and something I could go on about for a long time. I’ll talk in brief here—it made a huge difference in my life when I developed ANXIETY. I started a regular practice and it made a huge difference in my life. The key is regularity. How do you start? I recommend taking a class (there’s probably one around). But want to start now? There are a ton of good apps for phones that are fantastic. I collect these things. My current favorite is Buddify.
7. TAKE THE NAP. I get the sleepies on dark days and I used to fight and fight that urge to nap. Then one day I did it and I suddenly wasn’t as tired, like magic! If you work or are in some setting where you can nap a little, I think you should do it. Winston Churchill used to nap EVERY DAY for HOURS in the afternoon, and that was DURING World War II and he won the war, so there must be something in it. #proof
8. DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH STUPID STUFF. Just give in. Do it. Want to watch 50 stupid videos? Just do it. DO IT! Want to read a pile of rock biographies until you dream about Stevie Nick’s hair?* DO IT. Go ahead—search for and examine 500 pictures of Sherlock. Play games on your iPad. Why fight it? It’s better than sitting around thinking about being grumpy. Already doing this? AWESOME.
9. CALL A FRIEND OR TALK TO THEM ONLINE OR SOMETHING. Tell them about your nap and those 500 pictures of Sherlock!
10. READ A BOOK. Hopefully you are already doing this. Why not read one of mine? WHY NOT?????
Reading! It’s fun!
11. WRITE DOWN THREE THINGS YOU ARE THANKFUL FOR. Sounds like one of those touchy-feely bits of nonsense, but this actually triggers happy bits in your brain. Want to learn more about this and other fun mind hacks? One good book on the subject is :59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman.
12. VOLUNTEER FOR SOMETHING GOOD. This is a whole bunch of good stuff coming together at once—getting out, working with people, doing something for the good of others, etc. (Or working on something from home that helps others—JUST AS GOOD.)
13. SEE A SHOW. I went to theater school and this time of year was JAMMING. Winter is PRIME theater time. If you have a chance, go see something. There’s a major difference between being in a movie theater or watching a television and watching ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS perform.
14. BOARD GAMES. It’s always BOARD GAME SEASON, but winter is when you can really get your four to five hour games on.
15. BAKE. Again, this is PRIME TIME for baking. Why not bake some bread? WHY NOT???? If you don’t want to eat it, send it to me. I’ll eat it.
16. MAKE SOMETHING. What have you always wanted to make? Want to write? Draw? Play music? Make videos? Knit? Create a game? You may be slumped in front of your computer now, but go on, get up! GIVE IT A GO. Here’s a Lifehacker piece on how getting started is everything.
17. TURN SOME MUSIC ON. Amazing how big of a difference that can make.
18. COME AND WALK MY PUPPY. I think she needs to go out and because it’s winter, I gotta put boots on, and her boots, and my coat, and her coat. Worth a shot.
19. YOU MIGHT EVEN LIKE IT. This, for me, is the big one. On many levels, I LIKE WINTER. I REALLY LIKE IT. I love snow. I love bright winter mornings. I like COATS. I like hot coffee and hot chocolate. Once I stop complaining I remember it’s ACTUALLY PRETTY FUN in the winter. I’ve had a lot of my MOST FUNNEST TIMES during the winter. If you start looking for some good stuff about winter, YOU MIGHT FIND YOU LIKE IT.
20. MOVE. It’s an option.
(I should also say, this is just a FUN LIST for people who are just a bit PUT OUT. If you are having issues with seasonal depression—go see your doctor. They can help. Seriously. Go. You can certainly do these other things on a day-to-day basis, but go.)
* I speak from experience on this one.