Hello, hi, 👋🏻 Still hanging in there despite a pretty brutal winter season. We had a surprising amount of snow for a surprising number of days, as it is usually just wet and cold on the West Coast (Wet Coast) and it impacted us in ways we aren’t used to (commute to work became intense, garden was all under snow, rabbits needed help keeping warm, etc). It also meant being stuck in our house without power some days, which can feel pretty isolating. We are almost at daylight savings and after that things will start to pick up again around here.
I’ve come up with a few ways to shake off my winter blues and I thought I would share if anyone else wants some motivation!
- Get Outside
It rained a lot this winter, so for the majority of my weekends I stayed inside instead of going for walks. I’ve had a Fitbit for about a year now and, even though I wasn’t even bothering to hit daily step goals over the last few months, it still tracked my info so I could see how little I was exercising. Last summer I was averaging between 12,000 and 20,000 steps daily and my weight was down. Since October I have been hitting between 15,000 and 18,000 steps on each of my three works days, but then all of my days off are about 4,000. Ouch. So now my daily average steps is down by about half or more and my weight is up. Boo winter!
So my first step to shaking the winter yucks is to start going for walks again. I have definitely noticed how lazy I have been over the past few months and it’s making me feel gross physically and mentally. I’ve done 2 big walks already and would like to make it a daily thing again. The dogs are happy about this development and it felt really nice to get moving. It’s been hard for me to get the motivation up to go walking so they haven’t had walks either, which obviously sucks for them.
- Drop Out of Social Media
Social media is messing with your brain. Every time I checked my FB I would be bombarded by articles and videos that were so, so depressing. The US political chaos is seriously getting me down (just, ugh) and so is everything else people are posting about. It’s grim out there. While some may argue that to “opt out” of the news indicates privilege over those who have to live it and can’t just turn it off, I think it is also important to protect our own mental health during these times. What good am I when I have been depressed into apathy and inaction?
So I kamikazed my Facebook account. And my Tumblr and Pinterest. I unfollowed some pages on my IG and did a general clean up of my online presence, limiting things to just my blog, Instagram, Etsy and Goodreads (I’m still pretty MIA right now though after quitting all my groups. More on that later). Being away from the onslaught of terrifying news has made me feel much lighter. I don’t want to be all “ignorance is bliss” or tell you to take the happy pill and ignore everything around you or anything, but taking a time out to focus on the things that are most important to you seems like a great way to clear out all the brain clutter.
If you don’t want to quit completely there is always the option to deactivate and try again later. I also recognize that some people who feel isolated rely on social media to connect with friends, and if social media is a lifeline then certainly don’t delete it. Limiting use also helps too. For me, personally, I just had to get out of there 🤢
- Simplify Your Life
This may not be the case for everyone, but in addition to being really down in the dumps I am also really, really busy. Too busy! My brain is a constant to-do list and things have been piling on there faster than I can check them off. So on the one side the anxiety is ramping up and making me feel like I have to DO THINGS otherwise I am wasting time, and the other side is me not being able to cope with the tasks I have to do, even if it is as simple as replying to a text, because I have zero energy and I just feel like I can’t be bothered with anything.
So to reduce my anxiety I had to reduce my to-do list. Start checking things off and then -gasp!- not add anything new! This meant not taking on new work, getting rid of projects I didn’t think I could finish, bailing on all book clubs, and cancelling a trip we had planned so I could just focus my energy on the things I most wanted to do. To get there I had to clear out a lot of stuff I didn’t actually want to do, but once it was off my plate I felt a lot better. Now my list is manageable and I can go at my own pace.
I’ve also become more aware of what an item on my to-do list looks like and especially aware of the number of things on the list that are for other people. I have had to seriously cut back on the number of things I do for other people and in some cases refuse to help if I didn’t think I could handle it.
- Eat More Vegetables
I’ve been eating terribly all winter. No energy means no cooking which means I eat the easiest thing I can find, which means I eat a lot of fast food, pizza, and pre-packaged junk. Don’t get me wrong I eat those things all the time, but I usually also balance it with salads, soups, fruits and vegetables and all the other good stuff. Not so this winter. I made zero effort whatsoever haha.
- Prioritize Yourself
I did my hair for the first time in about 6 or 7 months and it was so nice. I have not made time to fix up my hair, paint my nails, or play around with makeup in ages, and I really like doing those things. Why do we backburner things for ourselves when we are busy and overwhelmed?
Shaking the winter blues is going to mean putting myself first and doing the little tasks that I have not been doing all that much of which includes basic personal care: eating, bathing, laundry, washing my hair, etc.
So those are some of my ideas for getting back into the swing of life. Is anyone else feeling the winter blues and needing to make a change? What are some of the ways you will work towards better mental health?