Have I mentioned it’s February? Have I mentioned we’re buried in snow? Have I mentioned that these winter days are long, dreary, prone to illness, and severely lacking in sunlight?
I have? Well, sorry but we’re going to talk about it again. But we’re not just going to gripe — we’re going to talk about the winter blues and how you can combat them. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real, people. Some of us suffer from it more than others, but since we all go through periods of BLAH (sorry for all the technical jargon today) now and then, it’s helpful to have a positive strategy to combat it.
Here’s my one quick tip to get us started: Follow your nose. I’m no aroma-therapy type, but I do think we’re more affected by scents than we realize. Put on some perfume, bake some bread, or light a yummy-smelling candle. It’s an easy, instant way to feel better about your world, no matter how bleak the day.
If you promise not to laugh, I’ll share with you my personal favorite scent these days: Glow After Dark By Jennifer Lopez . Perhaps J-Lo and I have more in common than I realize (she’s having a baby, did you know? And it’s everybody’s business whether or not she’s having a C-section and whether or not it’s medically necessary and what she plans to wear at the hospital afterwards, did you know?). Well, even if we don’t have much in common, this fragrance was a Christmas present and it happens to smell quite warm and pretty. It’s February in New Hampshire and I’ll take what I can get.
I could blather on with other ideas, but I’d rather hear from you. Tell us your everyday strategies for beating the winter blahs.
Heather Price says
I’m a big advocate of comfort food: meatloaf, chicken noodle soup, chili. Stuff that fills you up in the best way.
The fact that they also smell up the house with “homemade” goes back to what you said, too.
That and opening the curtains or blinds if there’s a smidge of sunshine! Have done with the heating bills; we need what natural light we can get!
I am also finding this winter extra challenging. Some things we’re doing that seem to help our attitudes and energy: Vitamin D, cod liver oil- high in the omega’s (Carlson’s taste good, well, maybe not good, but decent ;-), and my husband and I are getting up at 5:00 a.m. to work out. I go to the local health club and do an aerobic exercise for 30-45 minutes and then lift weights for 15-20 minutes. When I leave for the health club it’s usually very cold and I can’t believe I’m actually getting up this early by choice! But it is very worth it. I’m also trying to have people over 1-2 a week for coffee or dinner (of course this is often derailed because of kids fevers etc.) I find I accomplish more when I know I have company coming over and the children really look forward to a party.
Oh, one more thing. No matter how cold and drearing we always get out of our pj’s and into “real” clothes. It’s tempting to stay in jammies all day – a kind of “what’s the point anyway?” laziness, so we combat that by dressing properly for our day.
We joined the YMCA after Christmas. I’ve been taking the girls swimming one morning a week, and they love the children’s play area, too. It feels like a mini vacation when we’re there. As long as the streets are plowed so we can get there, it’s a real highlight of our winter!
Music! We try to gather up lots of new cds from the library during the winter or have our oldest download some fun, catchy songs (perhaps J Lo has something good out there? ;-)) from I-tunes and crank them up on the i-pod for random fits of impromptu dancing. Definitely livens up the place and we get to share our favorite tunes with one another!
Sue B. says
Since New Year’s, I’ve been requiring a daily walk as part of our home school day. We’ve walked in light rain and frigid temperatures, and I have not experienced the usual winters blahs.
Even though some of yall have already mentioned it, exercise is the best thing I can think of to combat winter blues. Fortunately I only have to go through them a month or so before it’s spring again (now), but they’re dreary ones. Just some stretching or a little dancing helps, but I can rarely be convinced to actually go outside to do it. Also freshening up my home or outfit helps and a little extra makeup or curled hair or fresh carpet lines can do that for me. If I’m feeling bad at least I can look good, right?
allison EB says
I have gotten in the habit (yeah!) of jumping rope while praying my rosary. I figure, if the vatican says we can pray the rosary while driving, then it’s ok while jumping–I don’t have to concentrate nearly as much as when behind the wheel. So far it’s been an easy winter–but I can’t complain anyway since I escaped to Oregon just before the worst winter Maine has ahd in a long time! It does rain–but it also gets sunny, and it’s relatively warm–no snowsuits to wrangle with!
Good idea, Jane. I’d like to put in a request for a little Steve Miller Band. 😉
This is our second winter living in upper Michigan after living in the deep South for most of our adult lives. What an adjustment! I, too, have found that natural light is extremely helpful. Sunny winter days are few and far between up here, but when we do have them I make sure all the windows are open. When it is cloudy I only open windows in the living room and one in the kitchen so we can watch our bird feeder. I recently received a scented oil heater (the type with a candle in the bottom) and have gotten some rose essential oil. The little tea light lasts several hours, and the rose scent is sweet and warm; I light it in honor of the Blessed Mother. I exercise daily, too, either on our stationary bike or with a DVD. The fact that I have lost all the weight from my most recent pregnancy plus almost 15 pounds is a definite bonus, too. I’m still new to living in a place where there is serious winter; I look forward to reading more suggestions!
Sarah R. says
– Play dress-up with a little girl.
– Take a bunch of big boxes, transform them into a train or a boat or some sort of transportation, and whisk yourself away to a tropical location. (I usually do this in front of the wood stove. Otherwise when I have my swimsuit on, I just don’t feel, um, comfortable.) (Not that I feel too comfy in a swimsuit anyway, but, well, it’s all part of the mental trickery.)
– Comfort food (Heather’s on it with that one!), including, but not limited to, chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate, hot tea, and anything from the crock pot!
– For some strange reason, cleaning has been helping me this year. I do NOT like to clean, and I don’t do it enough, but the smell of those cleaning supplies seems to make me feel like spring is closer. So, for what it’s worth, there you go!
I put on my Beattles CD – it has 20-some singles on it. The songs are catchy and pretty clean so I can turn it up and wail along. My kids are diggin’ it, too.
Amy Parris says
I agree with the other ladies on several points. Getting dressed and putting on a little make-up always makes me feel better. Sunshine is also a proven remedy, although it sounds like you don’t get much of that.
I’ve found that being a member of the Family Y helps a lot because working out is like an antidepressant for me. And the great thing is that we have a fantastic play area for the kids so they get a chance to burn some energy as well.
This year for Christmas, my parents gave us a member to our local science center that the kids love. Not only are the exhibits educational, but they have a large indoor play area too. This is great both in the winter and in the hot summer months.
I have severe blahs!!! Not only is it February in New York, but I’m 7 weeks pregnant with my 4th and have the most horrible morning (all day) sickness. I’m interested to hear some of the other suggesstions besides smells. Smells (good or bad) make me want to vomit these days.
Well, seasonal affective disorder may explain my poor mood these days. I am funky (not smelling, just feeling) and cannot get out of this melancholy for the life of me. I keep thinking, “Maybe the kids would be happier not home with me but at school” because I’m so grumpy all the time! I do like the suggestion of baking bread. I’ve been using my bread machine the last few days, and the smell is inviting and does perk me up a bit. Perhaps I shall do that again today. I have no suggestions. I’m new at this homeschooling thing (only my second year) and I’m learning as I go, bumping along. Thanks for this post! And, I wonder if J-Lo will have a c-section. It’s all the rage. I would be super popular among Hollywood as I’ve had four (not by choice though…) LOL.
I live one day at a time and also keep knowing March is coming, which is not much consolation in MN, but after March is April!!
PS I also got a J-Lo perfume for Christmas once, and LOVED it! She does know how to pick those fragrances! We can smell good together!
For me the blahs mean it’s time to shake things up with homeschooling.
Shift to either high tide or low tide. Launch into a new unit study with lots of crazy fun extras. We are turning our living room into a castle. We’ll be weaving tapestries, going on webquests, making armor and planning a feast.
Make up a random silly holiday. Example: have a kids choice day: you have to do math, but you get to choose: workbook, life application or computer game. Kid’s choose science experiments and art projects from the books we have. Kids can even help choose and make meals!
I’ll second the early spring cleaning idea. When the nice weather comes, I’ll want to be outside!
Getting outside helps…no matter how lousy the weather, we try to get out, unless it’s just pouring rain. But we are far more south than you are. 🙂 When the lows get into the 20’s and 30’s we are just dying here.
Smiling at the thought of jump roping with the rosary…imaging the Hail Mary said as a sing-song jump rope chant, like “Cinderella, dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss a fella….” lol.
My favorite way of fighting the blahs is mugs of hot cocoa and thick slices of cinnamon toast.
And I make huge pots of soup or chili at least once a week and serve with fresh baked cornbread or biscuits smeared with lots of butter.
The first thing I do in the morning is open all the shades to let in as much light as possible, even if it is overcast and gray outside.
Lots of movies! There are tons of movies that come out through the year that we want to see but don’t, especially when the weather is warmer and we’re doing outside stuff. Keeping a long list of those we wanted to see, but missed through the year helps when it’s February and we’ve got not much else going on, except five degree weather. Vacations also help, if you can do it! We had the opportunity to spend a week in Florida this past month and it was heavenly.
Oh, and Danielle, I just read in People that J-Lo is expecting TWO babies!
Who can have the winter blahs when your kids are tearing up the courts! Last year they were both in the bottom of their divisions and this year they’re winning!
Also: we went somewhere new: the Cathedral for an official tour and the History Museum for an exhibit on Flight.
And we’re doing lots of baking…chocolate. Cupcakes, lava cake, brownies.
Did I mention I didn’t give up sweets for Lent? I think that helps.
Plants. Plants are your friends. If it’s possible to keep houseplants (i.e. you don’t have a maniacal cat that likes to attack them), they help a lot. Especially little window herb gardens. I have to use a sun lamp because I have a dark Boston apartment, but that actually seems to help my mood, too. Fake sunlight and indoor greenery seem to work wonders.
In Seattle, we mostly battle short days and lots of cloudiness. Not much snow, thank goodness! However, I’ve found that some things that help are making a special breakfast with the kids in the morning, getting out for a walk even when it’s not the most beautiful day, making sure menu planning is done (and includes warm, filling, sustaining stuff like soup and chili) so that I don’t end up scrambling at the end of the day, because that always adds to the doldrums.
Speaking of candles, I bought several delicious-smelling candles from http://saintlysoaps.com; a lovely Canadian woman sells these Catholic candles, teas, and soap, each named after a saint. The yummiest so far, in my opinion, is “Saint Josemaria’s candle, which smells like the most delicious vanilla iced cake you’ve ever had! And our family has claimed February 29th (leap year) as our own family fun day! I don’t know what we’ll do, but the kids are really looking forward to it.
How about doing some things that you would rather NOT have to do in the summer when you can be outside with the kids at the pool? Clean your oven, wash your drapes, clean a window or two. Spruce up a bedroom or bathroom with a fresh coat of paint. You will stay busy and distracted, you will enjoy the immediate results now, and you will thank yourself later when all that spring cleaning is behind you and you have extra time to actually enjoy the spring!………………….can you tell I’m nesting?
Besides music, candles, exercise & sunshine – we love to plan our spring/summer garden. We order lots of catalogs and browse through them for veggies & flowers we would like to try to grow. We love the colors and the excitement of the new season coming soon!
We like to pretend that it’s summer here. Granted, here in southern Indiana it doesn’t get nearly as cold or as precipitation-y as it does in the naath-east, but my kids love our midwinter water balloon fights and filling a plastic swimming pool with sand for a makeshift garage sandbox. Our ultimate favourite, however, was when we threw water balloons filled with coloured water off the roof onto snowdrifts. A lovely art project and satisfyingly physical at the same time.
Mrs Marcos says
“Perhaps J-Lo and I have more in common than I realize (she’s having a baby, did you know?)”
Did I miss some sort of announcement?
Anxiously awaiting confirmation! 🙂
Danielle says: I meant only that we are both mothers now. I love you guys. Really I do. But please let’s not start the #9 thing all over again.
Well, I officially have the blahs. After combating the flu for the past 2 weeks it finally has gotten the better of me. It’s just not leaving! I am not terribly sick, just fatigued, and depressed. I did get out in the warm weather yesterday and walked on the beach for a bit (It was 60 degrees here on Staten Island, NY) and ate some chocolate. Today it is sunny but in the 30’s. I went to the beach again, and lasted all of 3 minutes out in the wind. But, I saw my chiropractor and she gave me some supplements to boost my immune system, and I am actually feeling better this afternoon! Talk therapy also helps if you have serious issues going on in your life. The BIGGEST thing that helps me beat the blahs though is diet. I’m hypothyroid and gluten intolerant (just found out 3 months ago), and the best diet for me is high protein, green veggies, salads, olive oil and beans, oh and blueberries every day! The past week I have had more carbs, but my body needs them. I was told if I dont’ eat them when I’m BLAH it can turn into full blown depression. So, I do try to eat the GOOD carbs. I don’t know if kiddies would do well on my diet, but most grown ups would. I also take a LOT of vitamins and minerals. Ok, that’s enough out of me.
HOpe everyone feels a little less BLAH tomorrow.
Although I am not feeling too wintery BLAH this year, I have dealt with it before. One of my favorite ways to beat the depression that can come from being cooped up for too long with or without sick children is to turn on some good music, nice and loud, and just enjoy. Whether dancing with children, or singing along, or just listening while doing other things, good music seems to snap me out of it for at least a period of time. Plus knowing that each day brings another minute or two of sunlight and spring is on its way, helps to ease the depression. Summer will soon be here! Heck, Spring was here 2 days ago, and somehow yesterday it was back to snowing.
Mary B says
After 4 wekends of sick exhausted people from the flu, positive test on hubby, ear infections etc I have had it! I’ve missed everything I enjoy. Of course this has happened so many times over 19 years that we don’t sign up for many winter activities. My daughter got up and drove nearby at 5:30 am to paint the sunrise. Not me. But I did decide we will have school vacation and I will spend the next 3 days sewing.
Red Cardigan says
Definitely the homeschooling ease up/change pace thing. It took me years to realize that what my mom used to call “third-quarter blues” was real, and that it *wasn’t* solved by Cracking Down Even Harder And Making Everybody Else As Miserable As Mom Is.
We took President’s Day off even though Dad ended up getting called into work after all; we’ve had a “DEAR” day (Drop Everything And Read–great fun!); I’ve done “theme days” in past years, and have had some requests recently for another one. I also reexamine busywork when I’m making up the schedule for the week, and cut down on extended numbers of math problems, extra lists of questions in science that were already covered in the chapter, projects that involve the writing of more lengthy paragraphs just like the ones already assigned in other subjects, and so forth.
Other than that, I ditto the clothing/makeup suggestions, the baking/aromatherapy suggestions, and would just add one other thing: rediscover an indoor project/craft/etc. you like to do, and spend at least a bit of time each day doing it. For me, it’s fiction writing, but for other moms I know it would be sewing or other decorative crafts or painting or whatever inspires you. The important part is that this is NOT part of school; we homeschooling moms start thinking we have to share/do everything with the kids, but we forget to give ourselves a little free creative outlet now and again.
Well, we start thinking about moving south when we are in the dead of winter:)
Actually I just bought a full spectrum lightbox off of EBAY, it is a Sunbox sunray and I got it for 1/4 of the usual price but it still was $112. I do suffer from SAD and work hard to exercise and get sunlight daily but there are weeks where I can only get out one day. We’ll see if the light box helps.
We have ALOT of gray days in Washington state with ALOT of rain. I have lived here my entire life so I often think that the gray doesn’t bother me until the SUN shines and then it is so welcomed and puts my entire family in such good spirits! I try and walk when I feel the winter blues. Also, I love color. So we have color on all of our walls and it just makes everything seem more cheery! Maybe you could paint!
I used to live in Maine so I know all about the dreary month of February…what I used to do was take a trip to the local greenhouse..it smelled earthy, fragrant and felt tropical…like taking a vacation to the south seas. I also like to start planting seeds in starter pots for spring planting….lots of fun and educational for kids to watch the growth.
Because I love flowers, I usually buy a pot of daffodils (small ones) in February.
Sara B. says
I tried to post this yesterday, but I don’t know what happened to it!
My favorite, most trusted Dr., Dr. Mike Eades, of Protein Power fame, recommends via his blog 5,000 IUs of Vitamin D every day during the winter months. Especially if you live north of El Paso, Texas. lol. I have been following his advice since Thanksgiving and have felt better than ever during the winter. I have been much healthier—dare I say, “healthy”! I missed the awful fever and cough that took down my entire family for over a week! That never happens to me.
I don’t know if I truly have SAD, but I really miss the sun and long for the first day of winter to come so that the days will start getting longer again! My mood has been much better this year. It has been a noticeable change in me this year—-and I live in ATLANTA!!
Have an indoor family “camp-out”. Turn off the lamps, light the fireplace, gather the sleeping bags, roast marshmallows, play board games, sing songs, tell stories…all the fun camping stuff, minus the fishing and hiking. But the best part really is time together.
And remember: No winter lasts forever, and no spring skips its turn.
Indoor Christmas lights help my BLAH days. Also, I wear colorful fuzzy socks. For some reason, that helps too.
What helps me get through the dreary winter days is my dog. She needs a good 3 mile walk every day. Yup. So I learned over the years that no matter how bad the weather is, if you are dressed appropriately for it, it’s not so bad. I recently discovered Thorlo hiking socks. What a Godsend!
So getting outside every day is a must for me and the kids. The best thing about being outside everyday is that you notice the subtle changes in the season. Yesterday I noticed our daffodils sprouting. So spring is not far away in NJ.
Another thing that helps is having company. Invite some friends over, make a nice dinner. Enjoy some good wine.
About this time around here, the grocery stores start having daffodils for $1.99 — sometimes $2.99 — for ten.
A bunch of daffodils on the kitchen table transforms the place. A bit of a splurge? Well, yes. Worth it? Totally.
I have not usually been too bothered by the lack of light, but I have recently retired from my profession as an administrator in a large child care center. I was in and out all day, often on the playground bundled up, and I find that being in more has been a little depressing. In the depths of the darkenss I picked a time (4:45pm) and tried to notice how light it is outside at that time. It is amazing how the daylight has expanded! (Maine gets dark early!)
A few weeks ago, I picked up a book at the library by a travel author telling of his travels in the tropics. Hearing from my relatives and friends in Mississippi and Texas about their warm days has been depressing, but somehow these adventures in that part of the world where the sun is constant all year round have helped me!
I always suffer from the winter blues but this year I got oils from Saje Aromatherapy (a Canadian company –you can see their website). I also got a water diffuser which puts moisture in the air as well as the fresh fragrence of your choice! My favorites are Well Being and House Warming. It immediately helps me focus on the positive.
I recommend SuperMom from Beeyoutiful.com
Since I have been taking these vitamins I have had so much energy and stamina (and I am a 40something nursing a toddler). I haven’t felt this good in years. And I have not gotten sick this winter!
My best tip is to put suntan lotion or oil on. The smell ALWAYS takes me back to summertime at the beach!
Teresa G. says
I live in Northeast Ohio and although we’re not as buried in snow as New Hampshire is, we still have had it on the ground for a long time. Except when it occasionally gets in the 40’s and rains….then everything turns gray and looks disgusting! I much prefer the look of snow on the ground.
One thing that is making me happy is that they’ve moved the change to Daylight Savings Time earlier – a few weekends from now (March 8/9) we’ll change our clocks and have more light in the evenings! I can’t stand the getting up earlier for a week or so, but I enjoy the fact that it’s finally not dark between 5-6 pm.
I totally second what Red Cardigan said about giving ourselves a little creative outlet, minus the kids. I really do not remember as a kid fighting the BLAHS that I fight as a mom. I’ve found it helpful to get out with girlfriends every month, or even a couple of times a month for an evening in the winter months. I look forward to a date with my husband every week – we love seeing movies and having dinner out together. And exercise (in my basement while watching Good Morning America) as well as getting outside after lunch to feed our horses helps me too. Just being in the frigid air for a bit perks me up (and makes me long to get back inside to the warm house!). And although our favorite and only show that we watch, “24”, isn’t on this season, we have gotten into American Idol again with the older kids and it’s sorta fun to watch it every now and again and rock with the songs that we grew up with. Yeah, a bit shallow, but fun.