Health coach and motivational life coach Ricki Friedman shares how to stay positive and fend off the winter blues.
By Ricki Friedman
We experience it every year — summer ends, fall begins and eventually, winter comes stumbling in. Even if you’ve lived here all your life, you can never get used to the sudden drop in temperature and all that comes with it: short days, grey skies and frigid moments as you roll out of bed and put 10 layers on for the day.
If you’re reading this, you already know how winter in Michigan goes, but the problem with this thinking is how limited and boring it will make your life for 91 days. Yes, winter is 91 days long.
See, the problem isn’t just the change in weather; it’s also the change in mindset — our mindset. Yes, of course, the sunshine and warmer weather make for happier people, but when did we become so dependent on our physical environment and ignore the power of our thoughts?
I spent so many years letting my outside environment decide how I lived my life and suffered a lot from seasonal depression. I’ve learned how to move through these transitions with more peace and ease by strengthing my mind and getting creative. It’s critical to accept aspects of the situation that you can’t change, like the weather. But you can choose how you deal with it. That’s the difference.
I’ve not only changed what I’m doing on a daily basis during these months, but I’ve also transformed my perspective. I now refer to this yearly transition as “seasonal adjustments.” Besides, it sounds much cooler that way (pun-intended).
These four guidelines help me manage the winter blues, especially when I feel stir crazy.
1. Create a “no-sit down” rule for yourself.
Because it gets dark so early, it’s easy to feel like it’s 8 p.m. when it’s 5 p.m., and the cold weather doesn’t help the situation. Remember, if it were light out, you wouldn’t be getting into bed this early! I follow a 7:30 p.m. rule during the winter months. I don’t allow myself to sit down for the evening (unless I have to do work) until it’s around that time. Yes, it’s very challenging at times because the weather can make us feel lazy, but I do something active (walks, cleaning the apartment, dance party, etc.) to keep myself busy to pass the time. I make it this a priority in my daily routine.
2. Invest in winter gear.
Being prepared for the winter months will make for a different experience. You should be investing in great winter gear that allows you to go outside without freezing. Remember, you’re not just investing in clothes, you’re investing in your future. Getting outside is a part of keeping our mental state healthy, so if you’re cold and miserable every time you step out of the house, you’ll spend the next 91 days indoors.
3. Try new indoor activities.
Get creative! Go rock climbing, try yoga, meet a friend at a speaking event, find an inside track to walk on, play tennis. We all would rather be outside, but remember you have to make “seasonal adjustments.” Start small and be consistent. Once a week, try a new activity, which is a great goal to set even in the warm months. It makes life a little more exciting!
4. Shift your mindset.
Change your thoughts, change your life. I look at winter as a time to focus on projects, read more books, cuddle more and do things that I wouldn’t otherwise due unless I had to. That’s not a bad thing either. It pushes you to get creative so that you can stay happy in the now. Start looking at winter differently, and it’ll be a more pleasant experience for you.
The warm weather will be back before you know it.
Detroit-based Ricki Friedman is a health coach and founder of breaktheweight.com.