It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But between cold weather, dreary skies, and the flurry of busy activity, it’s hard to take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. So how do we combat the winter blues?
It’s easy to feel disconnected in the holiday season. Your regular social circles are disrupt, everyone spread apart amidst family reunions, holiday travels, and frantic last minute shopping. Either you’re stuck away from home working or you’re stuck at home with a flurry of madness surrounding you, leaving you feeling lonely when everything begins to slow down. On top of that, the gray skies and cold winds of winter can often provoke the blues, concentrating thoughts of loneliness further into your mind. How to tackle the potential loneliness of the winter season? Stay connected with loved ones.
No matter where you are or who’s around, there is someone to reach out to for some social interaction. Be bold and reconnect with an old friend for some coffee. Make an event out of bonding time with a family member by going out together; this will prevent the trap of families who bond by sitting in the same room with eyes glued to personal electronic devices. If finding time for face-to-face interaction is difficult, maybe try giving distant relatives and friends a call and catching up. A spontaneous call is always a pleasant surprise, and with the rapid pace of technology, the gift of hearing someone’s voice has gotten lost in bland texts, DMs, and messaging. Lastly, the long lost tradition of letter writing is a wonderful way to stay connected. Something about spending the time to express thoughts through the pen and paper is truly rewarding, and it can let you feel more connected than ever as you drop the letter off in the mailbox.
With the cold weather coming in gusts of icy wind and below freezing temperatures, it’s easy to let ourselves fall into the trap of inactivity. It is scientifically proven that with inactivity comes less neurochemical activation of the brain that could lead to the blues. Without a doubt, the holiday season is a time for relaxation, but a 30 minute to 1 hour bout of physical activity could boost your spirits by releasing endorphins in your brain, leading to euphoric feelings and good mental health. So between much needed rest by the fireplace and laying in bed for some Netflix time, trying to fit in some physical activity will prove fruitful in keeping you both mentally and physically healthy.
A few fun holiday ideas to stay active:
Doing a “Santa Run” with friends where you all get decked out in holiday gear and run around town [bonus: bringing a portable speaker and blasting Christmas tunes!]
Freeze tag, flag football, ultimate frisbee, basketball, capture the flag -- the group games and team sport potentials are endless!
A family walk post-dinner around the neighborhood – bonding AND physical activity, win-win!
Who doesn’t love hot cocoa coupled with Christmas cookies and peppermint bark? Indulging during the holiday season is perfectly healthy for the soul, but it’s important to make sure that your treats also don’t take a toll on your physical health. Making sure you are eating healthy to keep your body happy is important, especially as your regular routine and eating habits are disrupted. Here are some tips to eating well during the holidays:
Don’t skip meals. It’s easy to between family get togethers and frantic last minute shopping, but skipping meals can often lead to over-indulging in the future.
Eat until you feel happily full, but not stuffed. Enjoy each portion and be aware of the difference between eating adequately and overeating.
Balance indulgent meals with lighter, healthier meals following -- that way indulgent foods won’t become a habit, but rather a treat.
Find healthy ways to make scrumptious holiday foods; they exist, I promise! Pinterest is a great place to find healthy recipe options for your favorite holiday dishes.
Take Time to Reflect on the Positives
With the end of finals, a busy work season, or exhausting year in general, it’s easy to get consumed with thoughts of the shortcomings and disappointments of the year. So take some time to sit down and reflect on the amazing things that have happened in the year. I’ve personally found that flipping through photos from the year often brings smiles on the times you may have forgotten you had. Or making a list of every achievement you had in the year, big or small. Or writing letters to those that you’re grateful for and who have supported you in the year. Or taking a walk to smell, feel, see, hear, and touch the wonders of the world around us every day. Taking some time to slow down and reflect on the positives will bring warmth and joy to your holiday season and keep your spirits bright!