It’s been cold and dark for weeks now and it is started to impact my mood. I realized just the other day my capacity for enjoying life seem lower than normal. It was like the sun had been put on a dimmer and everything just looked a bit more gloomy. Or that things at work that would normally slide right off me have been pissing me off. I’m not even going to suggest I was anywhere near depression, but rather just a mild seasonal case of the winter blues.
For me this isn’t a normal occurrence, but rather the result of a series of unrelated events that created a perfect storm for me to feel a bit down. Individually these are all minor events, but they all compounded to make me feel down:
- My work has several tight deadlines towards the start of the year.
- Everyone around me at work keeps telling me about their trips to somewhere warm such as Florida, Dominican, Hawaii, California…you get the idea.
- We have had a few recent periods of extreme cold where basically I’m rarely outside for more than 15 minutes in a day for a week straight.
- I haven’t taken much time off since getting back to work after the New Year.
- Our weeks have been a bit busier than normal between kids events and volunteer commitments, so I’m not getting my usual amount of downtime in a the last few weeks.
So what changed to break me out of this? Well the first event was realizing that I was feeling down. Odd as that sounds realizing that I do have an issue is half the battle. After that I could actually take some proactive management of the issue. I’m not suggesting any of the following will work for everyone, but rather what I’m doing to help me get back more to normal.
- Stop focusing on the negative. It can be easier to get sucked into a world where all you seem to do is focus on what isn’t going well in your life. The reality is that my situation hasn’t really changed, only my approach to things. So first up was try to consider the positive of the situation rather than jumping to the negative. Life is actually fairly damn great for most of us if you think about it.
- Do something I enjoy. Read a favorite book, watch a great upbeat movie or go play with my kids (like build Lego, go sledding or skating). Don’t just brood in front of the computer reading the new headlines or think about my taxes.
- Take some time off. I’m coming up at a long weekend right away so I’m planning on making sure I structure my weekend to maximize our free time. Also when I can I’ll try to take an extra day off soon to make a random long weekend.
- Get outside. Over a long cold snap it is easy to hide indoors for a while, but when we get even a moderately nice day I need to go head outside for a walk. Since the sunlight and the exercise will do wonders for me.
- Celebrate something. Perhaps an unbirthday, or maybe this Wednesday needs a little party in the house. It doesn’t have to be anything meaningful, but rather just a reason to eat a good meal, laugh with some friends and have a good time. Heck, even having a movie night with the kids can be a great time.
The trick for me overall is to break out of the cycle of feeling bad. I find it just turns into a endless cycle of feeling worse and worse if I just let this condition fester. Negative feelings can just feed on itself if I don’t interrupt the process. Just making an effort to change things often can help me move on to feeling better about life.
So do you ever get the winter blues? If so, on a regular basis or just once in while? How do you break out of it?