(First off, let me state, I am not a psychiatrist or therapist, nor do I play one on TV. My suggestions here are not meant to replace your doctor’s advice or substitute treatment for a true depressive disorder. They are just little tidbits I have picked up along the way to fight against those minor winter blahs.)
Historically for me, I think January and February have always been my least favorite months. I live in Western Pennsylvania and that is usually when our true “winter weather” seems to hit. I always feel a little let down after the holidays are over, the house seems plain without all of the holiday sparkle, and I feel pressured to make my New Year’s resolutions of getting organized and getting fit a reality! I find myself getting more distracted with my mind wandering off to memories of family get-togethers at the holidays or anticipation of warmer days and sunshine to come! My energy level suffers and I find it hard to keep up my productivity. In talking with other people, however, I found that I wasn’t alone in my suffering of the winter blues or how it affected my work habits and productivity. I started to think about what I could do to boost my mood and sail smoothly into spring! I think these tips have definitely helped me so I thought I would share them with you!
- Exercise—Ugh, as much as I hate to do it, I do feel better afterward. That is because exercise causes your body to release endorphins which can improve your mood and outlook on life! Even a brisk 10 minute walk in the afternoon can give you a big pick-me-up. If your weather permits it, throw on your running shoes and head outside for a quick trip around the block. It will give you time to clear your head and come back to your work refreshed and with renewed energy.
- Start a “virtual” coffee talk club with a friend—If you have time to meet weekly with one of your friends at your local Starbucks and catch up—that is great—but even if you don’t, you can still enjoy the benefits of grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend. Carve out a 10 minute block of time in your schedule once a week, grab your favorite cup of joe, and instant message with your friend to chat about life! My best friend lives many states away, but taking the time to gab weekly through our instant message coffee breaks helped to bridge the distance and keep us connected. It was “our time” that we were still able to maintain even though I couldn’t meet with her in person and our schedules were hectic.
- Plan for snow days! One of the great perks of working from home as an MT is the convenience of being there when your kids’ school delays or cancels because a foot of white stuff covered the ground overnight. I would think, “That’s okay, it won’t affect me-I can still work.” Then reality set in as I tried to work only to have two very excited kids with a lot of pent up energy bouncing around my house as I tried to hear and concentrate. I think the best way to handle this is to plan ahead! Try to keep a snow day survival pack ready to occupy the kids time so you can still work. Fill a bin with craft supplies, movies, books, etc that you can pull out and get your kids set up to play quietly. Keep it different from their normal movies or crafts so that it is something special that they only work on during snow days or when they are home sick. Send them outside to build a snowman or sled ride. If your kids are too young to do these activities by themselves, make sure you have a plan B in place with your employer ahead of time. Can you split your shift or work it later in the evening after your spouse is home or the kids have gone to bed? Do you have a neighbor you can swap the day with—you take all the kids in the morning while she has them in the afternoon leaving each of you a half day to still get some work done. If you have plans set in place before the snow day happens, you won’t go into panic mode scrambling to get it all figured out on the fly.
- Plan a “Just Because” get together with family or friends. The holidays have passed but you can still have a party! Pick a theme, such as an Awards Show Gala (Golden Globes January 16th, Grammys February 13th). Have your friends arrive in their red carpet best and watch the show while sipping on champagne and eating hors d’ oeuvres! How about a Winter Wonderland theme with snowflakes hanging from your ceiling and a snowman building contest in the backyard? Little things like this can really help to break up the monotonous winter months and give you something to look forward to.
I have given you some of the tips I have tried for beating the winter blues to help me stay upbeat, energized, and productive—now I would love to hear from YOU!! Please post any suggestions you have for getting past the blahs of winter!!