As if winter blues weren’t difficult to deal with alone, now we have the second wave of COVID-19 as well. Days are getting shorter and colder, and the rain, fog and wind are taking over. Even though that doesn’t sound appealing to majority of people, fear not. Things aren’t that dark after all, because weather is one thing you can’t control.
You shouldn’t let the weather control your mood because you actually CAN control how you feel! In the light of approaching winter season, and knowing that some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), I’m taking you through things you can do to beat the winter blues.
5 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues During COVID-19 Pandemic
#1 GET OUTSIDE
Getting outside…such a simple thing yet this year we all realised how we used to take it for granted. The second wave of COVID-19 has sent some countries into lockdown again and it’s hard to deal with. If your country is one of them I suggest you use the best of your time at home to get some sunlight and fresh air. Spend some time daily in your garden, backyard, balcony, whatever you have.
On the other hand, if you’re allowed to go out take advantage of it. Spend time in nature, exploring your city’s landscape. Breathing in the fresh air and feeling the sun on your skin is bound to boost your mood in no time. Getting your tushy outside will increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine – neurotransmitters that help energise the brain and regulate circadian rhythms. Furthermore, time spent outside will help you sleep better, strengthen your immune system, lower stress levels and increase happiness.
Nature has a calming effect on our brains, making us feel refreshed and revived. Whether you choose to spend your time outside sitting in the backyard sipping coffee/tea or going on a hiking adventure, just do it! It’s one of the ways to help you beat the winter blues.
#2 SHIFT YOUR MINDSET
Have you ever noticed how the bad news draw more attention than the good news? Also, have you ever caught yourself dwelling on an insult or endlessly thinking about the mistakes you made? The reason for this is that negative events have a greater impact on our brain that positive ones. This is also called the negative bias (or the negativity bias) and it can have a powerful effect on your decisions, behaviour and attitude.
All of that bias toward the negative leads you to pay much more attention to the bad things that happen. Therefore, making them seem much more important that they are. For example, you’re having a fairly good day and your co-worker/partner/friend says something you find insulting and you start fixating on that. The day goes by and by the time you’re in bed you’re thinking how you had a really shitty day. When in reality, you actually had a great day and got all of your tasks done.
Whether this negativity bias is evolutionary inherited or not, you can beat it by shifting your mindset. We all know that change is inevitable but accepting it – is not. This pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, thrown us out of our comfort zones and changed our routines. At first we thought it would’ve been dealt with by mid-summer yet now it’s mid-November and we’re still fighting it. Dealing with pandemic alone is difficult (physically and mentally) and now seasonal affective disorder (the winter blues) is taking place as well.
In order to beat the winter blues during the pandemic you must remember that this is only temporary. Also, this is the perfect time to begin re-training your mind and to learn how to shift your mindset.
Your life is as good as your mindset.
Start by writing down, either on paper or smartphone, three good things each day. These can be three things you’re grateful for, three things you’re glad you got done, etc. Next thing you can do it to train your mind to see the good in bad things. Such as thinking how much free time you got during pandemic, the numerous opportunities to spend days outdoor in nature, working from home, spending more time with your family, learning to cook, eating more homemade meals, etc.
Same goes for the winter blues. Instead of thinking how the sun sets super early and how the mornings get colder by the day, think how you should embrace winter and use it as a time to slow down. Time to enjoy being at home, making hot cocoa, watching Christmas films on weekends, getting cosy wrapped up in your favourite blanket, watching amazing colorful winter sunsets, catching snow flakes on your tongue when the first snow falls and so on.
Shift your thinking from “I can’t do (x things) during winter time “, to “I get to do so many cosy things during winter time”, for example. It’s like saying “I get to work out today!” instead of saying “I have to work out today.”. Remember that whatever happens, whatever the situation – there’s always a solution and an opportunity. Work on recognising those opportunities and use them to your advantage.
#3 CUT DOWN ON SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES
What you eat can have a significant impact on your mood. Simply try to think how you feel after you eat a few slices of cake and drink a bottle of soda. Whenever I go overboard with simple carbs I feel good whilst eating, however an hour later I feel shit. I notice a change in my mood, something between anger and regret. Also, soon after I start feeling tired and sluggish.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy treating my taste buds to something sweet every now and then. And I’ll never say “stop eating simple carbs completely” because there’s nothing wrong with enjoying them in moderation. I’m talking about eating them every day. If binge on simple carbs regularly, you need to take a step back and take action. Cut your simple carbs intake.
Simple carbs are made up of shorter chains of molecules and are quicker to digest than complex carbohydrates. This means that simple carbohydrates produce a spike in blood glucose, providing the body with a short-lasting source of energy. Ultimately this leads to you eating more and more often, gaining weight and ending up feeling tired, cranky, anxious and unhappy.
You can probably tell by now that feeling like that won’t help you in any way, shape or form when it comes to dealing with winter blues. It’s only going to make it harder for you. In order to help you beat the winter blues start introducing more complex carbohydrates to your meals. They take longer to digest, meaning they won’t cause sudden spikes in blood sugar that can play with your mood.
(HEY YOU! Check out how you can curb sugar cravings once and for all.)
#4 WATCH YOUR FAVOURITE SHOW/MOVIE
This will probably be your favourite way to beat the winter blues hehe. However, keep in mind I’m talking about watching just an episode or two (if they’re 20 minutes long) not a whole season. Watching an episode of your favourite show or a movie can boost your mood, make you laugh and help you get through the day with a smile on your face. On the other hand, binge-watching a TV series can have negative health effects. Such as back pain, lack of physical activity, lack of fresh air, depression and anxiety.
With that said, what is your favourite TV series or film? Tell me in the comments. I loooove watching Friends and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Whenever I put on one of the episodes I get this cozy, happy feeling. Get me a warm drink, snuggly blanket and I’m as happy as can be! And since the winter/Christmas time is approaching I can’t wait to start playing my favourite Christmas films (and songs)!
#5 VISIT 1000 AWESOME THINGS
Nope, this is not a sponsored link, this is just my appreciation for the world’s greatest website. I think I came across the ‘1000 awesome things’ website when I was first allowed to go on a computer (think it was when I was 13 or 14 years old). So that’s more than 10 years ago and I still come back to it whenever I need a ‘pick me up’. Talk about an impact.
Anyhow, if you visit the website and go under the ‘Top 1000’ you can find 1000 awesome things for each year so far. Furthermore, the author Neil Pasricha is currently posting one awesome thing on his Instagram each day to, as he says, “help him get through the pandemic”. Since we all need a little something to help us get through the pandemic I encourage you to either visit his website or his Instagram.
The art of life is finding happiness in the small things.
Most of us go through the day worrying about the next thing. Thinking about everything that needs to get done. Rushing, stressing and forgetting to live in the moment. But if we could just take a moment to appreciate everything we have, to cherish the small things, our lives would change. We’d finally realise that it doesn’t take much for true happiness. So if you struggle to see the good in life, if the pandemic is getting to you, as well as the winter blues – head over to Neil’s website. Scroll through those awesome things until you find something that brings you joy. It won’t take long until you find it, I promise.
Stay safe guys and remember, this too shall pass! We’ll come out stronger, smarter and better. Wishing you all an amazing week ahead! Chat soon,