I’m a list person and always have been: from the days when I would check off every article of clothing I had to don for a horse show, to the neatly filled out homework planner in college, to my detailed moving checklist a few months ago.
When I found myself facing the winter blues (this deserves its own post) yet again, I decided to tackle it in my favorite way: make a list. For your viewing pleasure, here are 6 ways I came up with to stay cheerful when the sun is hiding.
- Stay active. Don’t skip out on barn days or gym days just because it’s cold or you’re tired. It’s going to be cold and you’re going to be tired for months and you can’t stop doing the things you enjoy just because of that. Don’t stop moving and fidgeting and going on walks.
- Get some inspiration from others. I’ve mentioned before that I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated solely to beautifully positive thoughts– it’s great to lean on when the positivity isn’t flowing internally.
- Stay hydrated. I can’t stress this enough; when I don’t get enough water I start to slow down, my skin gets uncomfortable, and I feel like a blob. This was my single most influential lifestyle change that helps me feel better mentally, not just physically.
- Get a creative outlet. It doesn’t have to be a watercolor masterpiece and it doesn’t have to be advanced digital design, but creative streaks still need attention. Getting to write for this blog and my new nightly journal are ways I’m fostering that. (Side note- my new sister gave me this journal for Christmas and it’s the perfect balance of guided creativity! I never miss a night)
- Make friends, and then make plans with those friends. I am embarrassingly terrible at making friends as an adult, Dear Reader. It’s hard! There’s no automatic shared bond of the same stressful school, people have crazy work schedules, and established groups of friends sometimes aren’t looking for another member. Spending time at the barn and with similarly-aged coworkers has me slowly emerging from my shell.
- Fake it ’til you make it. Smile, laugh, and joke until your face hurts. This almost never fails to give me a boost, even on down-days. On the rare occasion that this doesn’t make me feel entirely better, there is at least the satisfaction of knowing that other people get cheerful attention instead of sullenness.
- Give yourself a break. Pushing myself to be active and happy and cheerful when I’m fighting against brain chemistry isn’t always going to work. No matter what, there will be so-so days. And that’s fine. Like Annye from An Amish Warmblood said, those “zero days” are needed. On those days it is OK to curl up under a blanket and ignore all the to-do lists. It is OK to read for 6 hours straight instead of grocery shopping and folding laundry. Binge watching Criminal Minds won’t ruin your month. Giving in for that one day makes it easier to push the rest of the time- I call them “mood cheat days.”
That last point is probably what’s allowed me to relax into happiness more easily this winter than I ever have. I’m going to push myself to get out there and keep my mood up, but I’m not going to fight myself to do that.
Just a little bit longer until the sun and warmth comes back, and I can’t wait!
How do you beat the winter blues?
I like your list, mine is very similar! I also try to plan for all the fun things that I will be doing with my horse once spring rolls around so I have something to look forward to
Good call! Dreaming of riding outside under a sunny sky…
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“Mood cheat days” – perfect! I love the rest of the list too. I think staying hydrated can be harder in the winter when you’re not hot and sweaty – need to make more of a conscious effort to drink!
Recently I’ve been trying harder to stay warm, too. Better, more expensive gloves and coat, more layers of breeches, etc. I always resist because I hate losing the mobility, and then I end up miserable because I get cold and can’t seem to get warm again. I’d rather be less mobile than stuck with a chill!
Ahhh you hit the nail on the head! I’ve been cold literally all winter, and once I started wearing hats/mittens/thicker socks I found myself sooo much happier. I’m a New England girl but somehow I just can’t handle the cold anymore!
I think I might not be completely hydrated all the time… Will definitely be taking the hydration tip!
Good advice! I always feel better when I’m more active, so staying busy is key.
Exactly- gotta ride the momentum!