Sunday, January 1, 2012

Winter Blues

I love winter, I really do. Nothing feels better than cozy days spent reading on the couch as the snow swirls outside, or nights around the fireplace with loved ones and a cup of hot tea in hand. The problem is, winter hasn't exactly started yet. The days have been cold and grey and the sun sets at 4:45pm. 4:45pm! I've been having a lot of trouble lately trying to deal with these short, dreary hours of daylight. Does anyone else find themselves slipping into, sort of, a depression at this time of year? Not full blown depression by any means… but I have definitely become victim to lazing around accomplishing nothing during the day, eating crappy food, and feeling sad, bored, lonely and sorry for myself. Which really is not like me at all, but every year at this time, I fall into this state of mind and I hate it.

Usually as Christmas approaches my spirits are lifted and I feel great until a couple weeks after new years, when the waiting period between winter and spring seems like an eternity.

This year, I am determined to change things. Being miserable and unproductive is such a waste of life! No one likes a sad sack, so I've developed some ways to modify my behaviour and general outlook on life. Hopefully some of these ideas help you, too. I know that I'm already feeling better!

Get an animal/spend more time with your pet; As you know, Josh and I adopted two kittens and it was the best idea we've had in a long time. Cuddling with an animal is therapeutic- at least for me. On days where I feel lonely and upset, snuggling with purring kittens helps tremendously. Instantly, my heart is warmed and a smile is put on my face. They're hilarious with their awkward little bodies and mischievous faces. I also find that having the responsibility of keeping two living creatures happy and healthy is great for me. It forces me to get out of bed in the morning to let them out of their room and feed them, and I find that that right there is enough to kickstart my day. 

Eat Healthy! Here's what happened- Josh and have been so excited about doing our groceries together and being able to buy whatever we want, that we've been buying a lot of junk too (because our parents can't tell us no). Cotton candy ice-cream, Crispers, cookies, chips, root beer, jujubes, steak, pizza, kraft dinner, pie… yeah. Not good. Josh and I have had terrible stomach aches for the past month and have both had the flu, twice. Being healthy is a huge part of being happy. And health is a huge factor that's been missing for me lately. I went grocery shopping last weekend determined to change our ways. I bought tons of fruit and vegetables, fibre cereals, 100% fruit juices, lean chicken breasts, probiotic yogurt, organic turkey slices, whole wheat buns, etc. Yes, it was definitely more expensive than the cheap, junky food. But in the long run, you're going to be happier and feel better. It's worth it. I'm going to write a blog post on healthy meal and snack ideas soon. I have some great recipes that I'm sure you'll love!

Splurge everyone once in a while; Don't get me wrong, by eating healthy I'm not saying that the odd junk item is forbidden. A huge part of being happy (for me at least) is to enjoy something that is terrible for me. Within moderation! I don't see anything wrong with every once in a while getting a donut or two from Timmies, or eating a chocolate bar, or getting a Big Mac Meal at McDonald's, or ordering a high-carb cheesy pasta at a restaurant. As long as you balance it out with a healthy active lifestyle, yo gunna be fine.

Get Excerise; This is SO important! Exercise releases endorphins into your body, which make you happy! I hate running, I hate going to the gym. What I love is plugging in my iPod and walking briskly outside in nature. I have a 4 km loop that I do with lots of hills and pretty views of the lake. I feel amazing while I'm walking, and amazing when I get home. If you're like me, grab a friend or just your iPod and head outside at least 5 times a week and I guarantee you'll feel better. If you do like the gym, I have huge respect for you! Good job. :)

Spend time with friends and family; Plan a coffee date, have dinner, go to a party, whatever. Just make time for your friends and family! They are the most important people in your life who know you better than anybody. Yesterday I was having a terrible day and my sisters surprised me with a visit. After a couple of hours of tea and laughter, bam. I was cheerful again.

Go out in public; Even if it's just out to a movie or window shopping downtown… being around lots of people is good for you. I find that sometimes when I've spent a lot of time alone I forget how to interact with people and the thought of crowds makes me anxious, which is so dumb… but it happens. Get out in public at least twice a week so that you don't lose your ability to communicate with the human race. :) 

Make a checklist of work that needs to be done; When I'm sad or stressed, I just want to lie in bed and try to forget about the things I need to accomplish… which turns out to be a vicious cycle and I end up becoming more anxious. But what I've found is that by making a checklist and actually being able to see on paper what needs to be done, it makes it way less scary and much more manageable. Plus, being able to check something off a list just feels good. 

Plan for the future; Whether it's just planning a fun night that you can reward yourself with at the end of the day, or a trip that is far away in the future, having something to look forward to adds hope and excitement to a particularly dull time in your life. Last year when I lived in Hamilton it got to the point where I just wanted to quit my job and move home. But then my family planned a trip to Georgia, and the anticipation of that was enough to push my through the entire month. 

I hope some of these ideas help you! They definitely have helped me, and I've found myself feeling more productive, alert, cheerful and healthy already.

But spring still couldn't arrive any sooner.

Taylor Rebecca

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