How to proactively fight the winter blues this season
November 4, 2011
Despite the weeks of denial, it can no longer be contested: winter is almost here. As November begins, it brings cold days, bone chilling winds and eventually, snow deep enough to bury us entirely. While some eagerly await the pristine, glittering wonderland, many dread the dozen layers of clothes, the slow, diffi cult walks around campus and the seemingly inevitable “winter blues.” Fortunately, by staying physically healthy, keeping a positive mindset, fi nding the joys in life and maintaining friendships, winter sadness can be virtually eliminated.
One way to avoid winter misery involves staying physically healthy. To begin with, one must commit time each day to physical activity. Anything from walking, skiing, biking, hitting the gym, or even playing outside greatly benefi ts one’s health. Next, wise food choices must be made to avoid negating the benefi ts of physical activity. Following the basic healthy food guidelines helps, but one should especially avoid sugar and caffeine because they cause fluctuating moods. Finally, to ensure a healthy body, one should take daily multi-vitamins and if necessary (as determined by a simple blood test) additional supplements like Vitamin D. Once one establishes the foundation of a healthy body, mental well-being can improve.
The fi rst step to improving mental health during the long, cold months involves changing one’s thought processes. Instead of waking up and dreading the cold or hating the sunless sky, one must focus on the positives such as wearing a favorite sweatshirt again, jumping in giant leaf piles, or soon being able to hold epic snowball fi ghts. As a Dove chocolate wrapper wisely shared, “Enjoy the childhood joys of winter.” If one looks outside with the eyes of a child, excitement and joy will inevitably build within. Even if the wonders hide initially, they can be found with a little searching and a positive mindset.
In addition to embodying happier thoughts, fi nding new life and exuberance for favorite pastimes helps immensely. Many students feel drained and in need of a break around this time. Constant academic pressures can cause one to dread previously enjoyed club meetings and feel as though there is not enough time to spend with friends. Remembering the driving passions behind the choice to join the organizations, looking forward to meetings by allowing the excitement to take over, and concentrating on the fun aspects rather than the dull, help prevent discontent. By relearning how to enjoy daily commitments, one can increase overall satisfaction with life.
Finally, spending time with true friends is integral to happiness. Problems only amplify without the necessary break from worrying about deadlines, grades, or an increasingly gloomy mood. Close friends know exactly how to create laughter, listen when needed, remove worries and produce joy. Forgetting the importance of friends often causes isolation and develops into a narrow focus on the negatives. One must make room to spend quality time with friends to maintain a strong support system and ensure happiness.
By preserving physical health, holding a positive mentality, rediscovering the joys of life and making time for friends, the “winter blues” will cease to exist. With winter approaching, one must take the responsibility of ensuring one’s health and happiness. By doing so, one maximizes opportunities, successes and pleasures in life.
Jaime Haines is an exuberant puppy-lover and “House” addict and plans to use her psychology degree to encourage activism and well-being through counseling, workshops, speeches, and the written word.