The Choice is Yours... Which Way Do You Want to Go?
I’ve gotten about 5 e-mails this month, alone, about how to deal with the winter blues. For some reason, I’ve never personally had this problem. Maybe it’s because I associate so many things that I love with winter: Christmas, snow, hot chocolate, chili, UK basketball, football (go Denver Broncos, go), sweaters, homemade soup, hot apple cider, my family being home more often, and coffee 24/7 as opposed to 12/7.
Maybe that’s why when I hear the words “Winter Blues,” my first thoughts are “Why? What? It’s winter!” I know I’m probably in a very exclusive club – people who don’t feel blue whatsoever during the winter months. You can easily recognize us odd ducks. We’re the ones running around with our Starbucks cups, all bundled up and smiling when someone says there’s snow in the forecast. I actually had a young girl tell me once, “You snow birds make me sick !”
We won’t go into the fact that the young girl was my own daughter Brittany – the BIGGEST hot weather enthusiast in the entire world. When I run from window to window watching snow fall gracefully to the grown, I think I wound her soul a little bit.
All kidding aside, dealing with the “Winter Blues” is a very real problem for many people. So what follows are 3 suggestions that I think can help take the sting out of shorter days and a lack of sunshine. Even if you’re like Brittany, you can actually survive the winter months and maybe even miss then when they’re gone.
- Fall in love with the season! Okay, if you’re feeling blue, this may seem like a stretch – but your happiness depends upon your open-mindedness. Remind yourself of the things that only come around (or at least happen more often) when God turns down the thermostat: NFL, hockey, homemade soup, special seasonal Starbucks’ drinks, bread, chili, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, college football, college basketball, prime time premieres, skiing, snow cream, snowmen, sledding, cozy evenings watching television, apple cider, hot chocolate, no yard work, your family’s home more often (depending upon the family, I guess that could go either way!), etc. Watch DVDs, play Scrabble, Uno, Life, Trivia Pursuit, or Monopoly. Grab the most difficult looking jigsaw puzzle in town and set up a special table just for it. My mom would do that every winter. I’d watch our Siamese cat, Solo. He’d keep his crossed eyes trained on the puzzle, waiting for her to get about halfway through with it…. then he’d take a running dive on the table and pieces would go everywhere. My dad would look away from his Western long enough to laugh, my mom would pretend to care, and Solo would watch as we tried to pick up the pieces before our toy poodle ate them. Such were winter evenings in our home!
- Talk it out. Grab someone’s ears and talk through your feelings, even if it’s your cat’s ears. Sometimes, when we let our emotions have their say, we’ll find out what’s at the heart of the matter. The root of the blues may be a case of grief. Winter often brings a longing for people who have passed away – especially around Christmas. People make the mistake of thinking that talking about these loved ones makes the feelings worse. Au contraire! Talking about loved ones we miss keeps them alive in our minds and hearts. We come to realize that they aren’t gone… they’re just a thought away. If the “root” of the problem has absolutely, positively nothing to do with winter, itself, you may realize you’ve been blaming a pretty cozy season for something that isn’t its fault. When you realize what’s really at the heart of your feelings, you’ll free yourself up to actually enjoy the cold months.
- Get out of the house and, most definitely, get out of the office. Try to keep things as normal as possible. If you enjoyed a daily walk in the park during the warm months, bundle up and waddle around the trail in the cold months. The sunshine, such as it is, will do you as much good as the activity will. Getting regular doses of both act upon a human the way catnip does a cat. One of the many things I love about winter is the eagerness of the birds. I’m a world class bird feeder/bird watcher, so I love to prepare special wintry meals for them – lots of sunflower seeds, nuts, berries, popcorn, and assorted bread crumbs. I also love to leave food out for our raccoons and possums. The occasional skunk will saunter up and feed and we all hold our breath, but man are they cute. These guys always give me evening entertainment that’s hard to beat. Fortunately, our cats don’t mind them and they don’t mind the cats. If you enjoy photography (something I’ve fallen in love with!), you’ll find endless beautiful scenes in winter. Grab your camera and get out of the house!
For those rare birds who actually enjoy misery, there are a few ways to invite the blues to stick around. To keep the winter blues in your life longer and stronger:
- Stay cooped up indoors. Pull the curtains and close the blinds don’t get out of the house unless it’s an emergency. Tell you what, pretend that you’re cut off from all outdoor activities. If you enjoyed feeding birds during the spring and summer – just let them fend for themselves in the cold months.
- Dwell on warmer climates and warmer months. Set beach scenes as your wallpaper and get kind misty eyed each time you look at it. Talk at length about summer days, warm weather, and how much you prefer summer clothes, flip flops, and grilling out.
- Complain until your lungs give out. This one’s especially powerful. It can make the blues turn into something far worse. You see, each time you complain about the wind gusts, the snow, the cold nose, chapped lips, and so on – you make the situation grow a little larger. Saying things out loud and dwelling on them in your mind always cause them to grow in strength. Dwell, baby, dwell! Now I’m not talking about the little “Brrrr, it’s colder than death’s fingers out there.” type of statement. That’s just giving credit where credit is due. I’m talking about bellyaching and nagging and yelling and feeling sorry for yourself. That’s the stuff that’ll keep the blues around.
*** Just a reminder, if you have any blankets, winter coats, sweaters, gloves, hats, etc. you aren’t using – take them to your local Good Will or Salvation Army today.