By Jennifer Powell-Lunder, Psy.D
As January slowly creeps into February, the after holiday let-down can leave even the peppiest of people feeling a bit of the blues. Weather related stressors such as sloppy, slushy, slow commutes, and cranky public transportation customers, make the blahs feel contagious. It is as these times that a touch of pampering and an ounce of prevention can serve as the most helpful interventions. What follows is a quick list of sure fire ways to beat the blues before they get too settled:
When stress levels increase, an individual is more prone to depressive symptoms including but not limited to: feelings of sadness, helplessness, fatigue, and even irritability. Winter brings with it specific seasonal woes. A few preventative measures however can really help lessen or alleviate some of this stress. Check the weather regularly. A little advance notice that something nasty is coming will allow you to take precautionary measures, such as setting the alarm a little earlier to deal with a bad weather commute, and small things such as making sure you have the proper attire to wear. Don’t wait until it snows to find those snow boots; locate them now so you are ready. Does comfort food hit the spot after a particularly stressful commute for you and your family? Pre-cook and freeze favorite dishes so you can come home, reheat, and relax after a tough day.
Once the holidays are over, schedules quickly become busy again. All the hustle and bustle is exciting but it can quickly become overwhelming. It is important to carve out some time totally dedicated to doing something just for you. Stress and even resentments can quickly build if you begin to feel you are always focused on work and family.
One way to battle the blues is to focus on ensuring that the body is healthy and fit. The positive effect of healthy eating, sleeping, and activity cannot be underscored enough. hen individuals feel supported and secure they are better able to manage the symptoms associated with feeling stressed and depressed. Positive coping skills are also important. Healthy outlets for stress and anxiety encourage wellness. Such outlets can come in many forms such as exercise, sport, art, or music, for example.
During times when you are feeling somewhat off your game it can be hard to get excited or motivated to engage in previously preferred activities. Push yourself to re-engage in things about which you are passionate. The distraction will keep your mind off how blah you may be feeling. If cooking or baking brings you joy, run, don’t walk, to the kitchen. Maybe making music or art is usually your favorite escape, battle that lethargic feeling you may have and start to create. For some folks exercise or sports combats stress the best. Remember, you may have to drag yourself to get going, but once those endorphins kick in you will be glad you did.
The mid-winter blues can be difficult to deal with. With a little preparation and self-care however, you can conquer the blahs often associated with increases of seasonal stress. A little bit of prevention and preparedness can go a long way to turn your frown upside down.