30 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
I don’t know about you, but for me, January is bleak as hell. The holidays are over, meaning the decorations and beautiful twinkling lights have been taken down, the festive spirit has evaporated, and the eating pants put away. Without end of year celebrations to look forward to, all you’re left with is the brutal, blistering cold. (At least, here in Canada.)
It’s a time when many people are struggling to stick to tough New Year’s resolutions they’ve made, and feeling like failures when they haven’t completely changed lifelong habits in a matter of days. (Read my Why I Stopped Making Resolutions post here.) They’re doing things they don’t really enjoy and eating things they like even less.
For a lot of people, this time of year also comes with financial stresses, because it’s when credit card bills from holiday spending roll in. For others, this month might come with a dip in confidence due to the holidays putting a dent in your otherwise healthy habits.
And then there’s every store stocking Valentine’s Day items, smacking you in the face with heart-shaped everything and reminding you that THE BIG DAY IS COMING UP AND OMG WHY AREN’T YOU IN LOVE WITH YOUR FOREVER PERSON YET!?!??
It doesn’t help that we wake up in utter darkness most days, and that the sun sets at what feels like two in the goddamn afternoon.
The January slump, or in more severe cases, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), is real. I always find myself struggling a bit this time of year.
So I decided to put together this list of 30 self-care tips to fight back against the darkness and work towards improving your mood and overall mental health. They help me, and hopefully, they’ll help you.
- Add more cute animal content to your social media feed. There’s nothing like watching a heap of kittens cuddling or a piglet getting a belly rub to lift my spirits a little. I recommend @mybestfriendhank, @babyanimalstagram, and @mr.pokee the hedgehog.
- Reach out and make plans with a friend, or even an acquaintance you haven’t heard from in a while.
- Take a break from the news. (But not forever, because we all need to stay informed so that we can fight back.)
- Find a Youtuber whose energy and positivity is infectious, and watch them regularly. I love Patricia Bright, her clothing try-on hauls always make me cackle with laughter.
- Buy yourself a whole bunch of cheap candles from IKEA or the dollar store, then turn off all the lights and take a bath (or read a book) by candlelight.
- Cook yourself a delicious, nourishing meal. Take the time to make it look nice, for no other reason than you deserve it.
- Watch the blooper reel of your favourite TV show. When I’m down I watch The Office bloopers. Seeing experienced actors struggle to keep a straight face before bursting into laughter is soul-soothing to me.
- Make yourself a cup of tea and re-read your favourite book or re-watch your favourite feel-good movie.
- Join a cause. You’ll be doing good in the world and you’ll feel part of a community – something bigger than yourself. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people, too. (If you’re in Toronto, there’s a Women’s March on Saturday, January 20, 2018.)
- Do a closet purge. You’ll feel so much lighter afterwards! Donate anything you haven’t touched in a year to charity or give it away to friends and family.
- Pick up a new hobby. Teach yourself to cook, knit, code, photograph, or make miniatures. Whatever tickles your fancy. It doesn’t have to lead to a bigger goal or be a marketable skill. You just have to enjoy it!
- Get moving. Not because it’s a resolution. Not to lose weight. Do it for the endorphins, because it will relieve stress and boost your mood. If a traditional gym isn’t your thing, that’s okay! Go swimming, join a team sport, go out and dance, attend a boxing class, or crank up the music and flail wildly in the privacy of your bedroom.
- Volunteer! Lend a hand at your local homeless shelter, offer to speak at a school, or help look after pets at an animal shelter. Doing good will make you feel good.
- Treat yourself to something you’ve wanted for a while. An item of clothing you’ve been eyeing, a new lipstick, theatre tickets, a tech gadget, a nice dinner out… anything. As long as it will bring you joy and it’s within your budget.
- Have an old-fashioned sleepover with your best friend or partner. Get into pajamas, do a face mask, eat pizza and popcorn, and stay up late watching movies.
- Cleanse your social media feed with impunity. Remove anyone and anything that makes you feel worse after seeing it. Even if they’re your friend! They’ve done nothing wrong, but you deserve to protect your mental health.
- Make a donation to an organization you’re passionate about. It can be $5, $10 – whatever is manageable for you right now. You’ll feel better afterwards! My pick is the Time’s Up movement. Learn more and donate here.
- If you’re lucky enough to have loving, caring parents who are still around, call them. Or if you can, visit them! Bury yourself in your mom’s embrace and feel like everything is simple and okay again, if only for a few moments.
- If you’re really struggling and the most basic self-care things have slipped: do them. Take a shower. Wash your hair. Put on clean clothes. Brush your teeth. Drink water. Moisturize. You will be okay.
- Clean your living space. You’ll feel productive, accomplished, and your mood will be elevated because your environment impacts the way you feel. (And I’m a person who is deeply affected by my surroundings.)
- Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for. Gratitude is so powerful, and you’ll immediately realize that no matter what it is you feel your life is lacking, there’s so much you do have.
- Buy some fresh flowers. Put them in whatever room you spend the most time in.
- Create a playlist of happy, upbeat songs that you just can’t help but tap your feet to. My happy songs are Boogie Shoes and Uptown Funk.
- If you have a pet, hang out with them. Give them all the pats and belly rubs, and soak up the adoration you see in their eyes. Imagine what it would feel like to see yourself with those eyes.
- Put on that outfit that always makes you feel cute as hell, even if you’re not going anywhere. Wink at yourself in the mirror.
- Read the stories on Humans of New York. Realize you’re not alone.
- Masturbate. No, really.
- Pick a small area, and de-clutter it. Whether it’s your makeup drawer, a shelf, or a kitchen drawer – remove everything and only put back the things you actually like and use.
- Go through your phone’s camera roll and remember all the wonderful experiences you’ve had and the memories you made. It’s so easy to forget the happy times.
- Watch the sunrise. To me, it’s magical and comforting to remember that no matter what happens in our lives and how bad things get – something so beautiful and majestic still happens without fail, every single day.
And as a bonus one: sleeeeeeep. Okay? Just, sleep. You’ll feel better.
I’m off to take my own advice. Zzzz….