Mental Health Wellness

Chasing Away Wintertime Blahs

January 16, 2015

Chasing Away Wintertime Blahs

We made it through holidays and January is well underway.  Much of the county has struggled with brutally cold, wind, and snow this winter. We still have a ways to go to get through this winter. One of my colleagues reminded me that Groundhog Day is February 2nd. If Wikipedia is correct, the groundhog, Punxsatawney Phil, will either see his shadow or he won’t. If it’s cloudy, and he doesn’t see his shadow, it’s actually good news – indicating that spring will come early. If the sun is out, it means six more weeks of winter.

Whether we all buy into this or not, it can be fun to see all the fuss that’s made over this cultural celebration. No matter how long winter lasts, it’s a good time, now that the holidays are over and winter isn’t, to take a look at what we can do make sure we are doing what we can to stay healthy – mentally and physically – during these remaining wintry months.

Winter poses a lot of challenges for most of us. It’s cold. It gets dark early. We often don’t see the sun for days. Our cars are dirty. Often, we eat heavier foods and our exercise routines go by the wayside. We are all prone to feeling a little down this time of year in large part because there’s not a whole lot to look forward to. The holidays are over, but it’s still winter.

So what can we do to chase away some of the wintertime blahs and blues? Here are a few ideas that might help:

1. Stick with or create some kind of physical exercise routine.

Winter can pose quite a challenge to a regular exercise habit, and not everyone has the money or the time to learn how to ski or go snowboarding. Consider these options:

  • Pushing your grocery cart up and down every aisle of the store.
  • Doing jumping jacks at commercial breaks while watching TV.
  • Taking the steps instead of the elevator.
  • Walking the dog.
  • Putting on your favorite music, and dance up a storm.

2. Pay attention to what you’re eating.

Experts recommend getting a variety of foods any time of year. It can be a little harder during the winter, but looking for seasonal fruits and vegetables is important. Getting enough protein (meat, fish, pork, eggs) is important too. Protein helps us feel full and satisfied.

3. Be around people.

Winter can pose special challenges to our social lives too. Bad weather, slippery streets, and bitter cold can cause us to isolate a bit more. People need people, even in the winter. Making time to enjoy being with others – family, friends, book clubs, church gatherings – is very important, too. If the roads are bad, consider calling a friend or Skyping. Texting and email are okay, but making eye contact with someone special is much more satisfying.

4. Be good to yourself.

All of the above are ways to treat yourself well, but you might have some other ideas. Some other ideas might include scheduling an annual exam with your doctor or getting a mammogram. Being good to yourself also means making sure you are taking your medicines as directed.

We still have a ways to go to get through winter. And we’re not sure, yet, if springtime will be early or late. So, give it some thought. What could you do to get through the remaining weeks or months of winter? We’d like to hear what you are doing. It always helps to share ideas, and we’d love it if you’d share yours.

Stay warm and healthy!

Karen Williams, LIMHP

Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.

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