4 ways to thrive this winter
Today is the first Brightly Alex Mental Health Monday of the year, so I'm going to write about it: winter. It doesn't have to be terrible!
Winter can be the most difficult season for a lot of people with mental health struggles. Even if you don't typically struggle with depression, winter can often bring on more sadness and struggle, thanks to many factors, from the lack of Vitamin D to the sloth-like lifestyle we slip so easily into.
The post-holiday winter blues are a legitimate hardship if you live somewhere, like the midwest, where January through March (April if we're being honest) are overcast and cold. But these blues don't have to come! Let's talk about how we can proactively combat the dreariness of post-holiday winter before it hits hard.
One note before we start. I'm almost hesitant to write these things down because it feels like a big to-do list. I know how hard it is, when depression hits, to get yourself to do anything. Don't put pressure on yourself to do all of these things, but maybe, with a mindset of grace for yourself if it doesn't happen, try to add one item into your routine as often as you can and see if it helps!
1. Buy a happy light
This winter-blues-fighter takes VERY minimal effort. All you have to do is shine a light on yourself for part of your morning and you're good to go!So what is a happy light? It is a full-spectrum light that simulates sunshine and the benefits of sun exposure. I snagged this one for less than $40 and have liked it! It really does help if you use it consistently.
2. Focus on getting your veggies in
The thought of eating a chilled salad for dinner when it's cold outside just makes me sad. But luckily, there are many ways to get your important nutrients in with tasty, warm meals that sooth your winter soul. And what better time of year than when it's dark at 5pm to spend a little extra time in the kitchen experimenting? Here are some of my favorite, veggie-focused, warm winter recipes:
Farro and lamb bowls - This recipe is a little more extensive than what I usually go for, but it's worth it. So tasty and unique! Also check out designlovefest if you haven't before! She's a huge inspiration, in SO many ways, for me and my blog.
Simple Beef Teriyaki - I love this easy recipe but I swap out the rice for roasted broccoli or sautéed veggies for some extra winter health points. OR, you can serve it over these zucchini noodles (if you don't have a spiralizer, use a cheese-grater)!
3. Get in a morning walk
This is one packed with benefits, though it is maybe the hardest one for me to motivate myself for.
I just listened to Max Lugavere's podcast on how to get better sleep (highly recommend!!) and the main tip was to get sunlight exposure in the morning! So interesting! This helps to increase your cortisol levels to get you going in the morning, which in turn helps you expend it throughout the day so that in the evenings you have little of the stress hormone left and your body can easily relax, which will help you get a better nights' sleep! Super cool, right?
Some other reasons to go for a morning walk include: it will help you wake up and feel ready to work! It will make you confident that you're starting your day off with a positive decision, even if you do nothing else "productive" that day. Your dog (if you have one) will love you for it. You get to become part of the morning walk community when you pass by your sleepy neighbor in their PJs, walking their dog.
4. Find something new
Whether that's a new friend, a new habit, or a new hobby, throwing your mental energy into something new is fun and rewarding! Is there someone you've been wanting to get to know better? Take this time of year when literally no one has any plans to ask them to coffee! Have you been wanting to start a blog? The dead of winter is a great time to spend ample time in front of a computer and creatively planning! Are you trying to get into the rhythm of healthy habits? January is all about renewal.
That's all the tips I've got. Let me know in the comments if you've had success trying any of these before!