Surviving the never ending winter
Updated: Mar 2, 2019
I think I must have been a Bear in a past life....a big, burly, surly Momma Bear. As the long Winter hits, I just want to eat food - get fat, and curl into a big ball and hibernate.
This has been a particularly long winter for us here in Saskatchewan. We've set records for low temperatures and have had an unusual amount of grey days. Typically, Saskatoon enjoys an average of 319 days of sunshine per year - It's Nature's way of saying "let me help you survive the horrendous cold by providing hope via this gift of glorious sunshine".
Yesterday I reached my breaking point...and after finishing up with some errands and appointments in the morning, I came home and changed into my comfiest pajamas and after putting my groceries away and eating a quick, all be it late lunch, I immediately tucked myself into my big, soft bed. And that's where I stayed until this morning.
While the wind blew, and the snow fell...I was buried beneath my fluffy feather duvet, binging on Netflix and snacking...with the intermittent 10 minute snooze in between. It was glorious. It was JUST what I needed...to stop...lay down...get warm...do nothing...check out...and just take care of ME.
I lay dreaming of all the places I could move to....almost convinced that my Husbands' recent desire to sell everything and move to Costa Rica was in fact a solid plan! Yesterday, he absolutely could find me on board with that idea, 100%!
And what I realized during this down time is that I am being affected by the season...I have a case of the winter blues and I need to dig myself out of this. Generally, I am a glass half full type person....lately EVERYTHING annoys me. And while I wanted to blame my recent poor attitude and malaise on the joyous condition of "peri-menopause" I am so fortunate to be smack in the midst of...if I really analyze things - it's this Fucking weather!
So this morning...I hauled my sorry self out of my exceptionally soft and cozy bed and I gave myself a stern lecture.
"you are not a Bear...you are a Human! You are a strong, capable, adaptable woman. This will not last forever. You need to get up, get moving and snap out of this funk."
And so here I am...attempting to be a happy, productive member of society . I got up early, showered, and even dried and styled my hair which is rare - it usually just gets quickly tossed into a messy bun or pony tail- because really...who has time for that?
I drove to the city to get some lab work done, ran a couple errands and even pumped my own gas - I mean hey...if those brave Gas attendants can stand out in this arctic tundra and pump gas...so can I ! I am woman- hear me ROAR!
I arrived home and got busy food prepping by roasting a big tray of veggies, and cooking some sprouted lentils and rice with quinoa. I'm winning at this! My momentum is still rolling forward...I sit down to write this blog and attend to some business tasks I have been putting off...and I tell myself I can DO THIS. I can get myself through these long days of Winter and not only survive...I can THRIVE. But first, I might need a nap in a bit!
So just what can we do to try and get through a case of the Winter blues?
Attitude is EVERYTHING...and when we find ourselves falling down that well worn negative path, we must stop, recognize our feelings and decide to turn around and trudge back up that path, looking for a silver lining. Finding something to be grateful for, can go a long way towards re-wiring your negative mindset. Take a few minutes each day to write down 3 things you are grateful for. Eventually, even though it may be difficult now, sooner or later that 3 things will morph into a long list. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for.
Connect with Nature. While the weather may prevent us from truly enjoying the outdoors- bring the outdoors inside! Pick up a new tropical plant, start an indoor herb garden, treat yourself to a beautiful bouquet of flowers. And if you can tolerate Nature's wrath outdoors...get outside and just BE...take a walk, inhale the cool fresh air. Smell the trees, listen to the ocean, revel in the insulated silence of a fresh snow fall, feel the rain drops on your face. Let your mind just focus on the beauty of Nature around you, whether you are outside, or enjoying some store bought flowers inside.
Exercise ! I know the last thing you feel like doing when its "freeze- your -face- off" cold outside is to get into work out mode...but if you can get past the desire to be a hibernating bear...pull out your favorite sweat pants and participate in some kind of physical activity - you will be boosting those feel good hormones by increasing the production of endorphins and increasing the brain sensitivity for serotonin and norepinephrine, which in turn relieves feelings of depression.
Seek some sunshine or invest in a light therapy box! If you are lucky enough to have the benefit of daily sunshine - sit beside a window and soak up some of those healing rays. Grab a delicious herbal tea and just sit and relax, absorb some vitamin D and bask in the warmth and glow of the sun. If Sunshine is fleeting - consider an ultra-violet-filtered light unit and spend 30 minutes a day in Autumn and Winter, exposing yourself to bright light therapy. Studies have shown a 50% - 80% partial to complete relief from utilizing a light box.
Consider supplements. Most of us reside far enough away from the Equator that Vitamin D deficiency can be an issue. Some studies have shown that Adults struggling with the winter blues benefitted from 400-800 international units of Vitamin D3 daily. Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), plays a big role in regulating mood, blood sugar and boosting the immune system. Fish oil supplements are also thought to provide an antidepressant effect by improving the function of the cells in your brain and blood. As always - consult with your Physician before adding a supplement.
Meditate. We are a society of over worked, over stimulated, stressed out, exhausted individuals. Finding time to slow down can be difficult and the ongoing chronic elevated cortisol levels can lead to anxiety, depression and chronic illness. By meditating for even just 5 minutes a day, you can relax the body and mind and increase the activity of the prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain associated with happiness.
Take a hot holiday. If you can work it into your budget...getting away to a hot and sunny destination will provide a much needed break from the dreaded winter blues. There are always last minute travel deals and if you are not fussy about the luxury level of accommodation, hot holidays can be achieved on a budget. I consider hot holidays part if my wellness program- its simply something I HAVE to do in order to survive the long Saskatchewan winters. There is always ways of managing a trip, even if it means re thinking your priorities. There are many things we spend money on that simply do not have the mental and physical health benefits as a vacation. Evaluate what you need and what you simply want...what you require to live and what you spend on extras, and think about re purposing those funds towards a hot holiday.
And if you need a day like I did where you just snuggle down and hide from the world and the weather, that's okay too...just don't make it a place you reside in regularly. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings and if you feel those winter blues sneaking up on you- acknowledge them and then consider how you can manage those feelings so that you can survive and thrive during the long cold winter.