Winter Doldrums: How to Dig Yourself Out

Everything’s all blah right now. The post-holiday reality of getting back to the grind is setting in. Winter looks more bleak and feels even colder than it did in December. I’m not even halfway through my day before my brain starts glazing over and slows to a halt, reaching a state in which I’m good for nothing more than watching paint dry.

I’m not alone, right? Post-holiday winter is just so icky. In fact, this week is supposedly the most depressing week of the year.

Bah! It must stop! There is too much to do out there to waste time in this state. But where do you start to shake off the winter doldrums? There are several small tricks I use:

Exercise. After catching the flu last week, I’m guilty of ditching my daily workouts altogether, and for far too long. But working out boosts energy levels, releases feel-good endorphins and keeps your brain sharp. So even if you can’t run a marathon, there’s plenty of good to be gained. For me, the comeback starts tonight.

Vitamin D. Winter means shorter days, means little to no sunshine for a lot of us. But you can still gain some of the benefits with vitamins and other healthy foods. So take a midday walk, or drink a glass of fortified milk.

Set goals. One of my go-to’s to light a fire under my booty. For me, this works best when I break tasks into small daily accomplishments that keep my efforts focused and reward me with the satisfaction that I’ve done something constructive.

Seek out new ideas. Nothing gets my wheels turning like exposing my brain to new ideas. For example, I just finished the book Quiet, and last weekend I dropped by an art museum for an exhibit on Roy Lichtenstein.

Indulge your winter impulses. Just a little. If your body needs more sleep when it’s cold and dark out, let it rest. If you’re craving something yummy, well, will it really do that much harm? Use your own reason and good judgement here, but sometimes your body is trying to tell you something with cravings, and denying it will only make it worse. A doughnut always makes me feel better …

Tell me … how do you shake the doldrums?

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2 thoughts on “Winter Doldrums: How to Dig Yourself Out

  1. great article on S.A.D. As a songwriter/bogger/psychotherapist that suffers from seasonal affective disorder, I will read anything I can get my hands on. The coolest thing I’ve read so for comes from Dr. Norman Rosenthal, author of The Winter Blues (THE book on S.A.D.)
    He has this whole section on how having S.A.D is actually great for creativity. The brief periods of hypomania (euphoria, fast crazy ideas, less sleep) that are typical of S.A.D. are great for coming up with wild, brave ideas. The majority of S.A.D. is your typical depression. He says depressive states are perfect for the editing, negative drudgery that allows creative projects to get lean and take tangible shape.
    Winter Blues Sufferers = High Creative Potential.

    • Absolutely–I’ve read before that areas with particularly heavy cloud cover (like Seattle) in fact are some of the most creative.

      But side note–readers, if you suspect have SAD and not just a case of the blahs … please, don’t limit yourself to these tips. Seek professional help.

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