Old man winter got you down? Surviving the winter blues

It’s 4:00 p.m. and it’s already dark. As you walk to your car after a long day at work, the cold snow-filled wind seems to pierce your skin. Later, sitting in traffic, the darkness seems to envelop everything and a feeling of sadness suddenly overcomes you. Yup, it’s definitely winter.

The cold days and darker hours of the winter season can trigger feelings of sadness and loneliness in many of us. Winter can bring many dark emotions to surface and if you are already struggling with a problem, it can make it feel insurmountable. Thankfully, there are things we can do to help ourselves: below are four coping strategies to help you survive the annual visit from old man winter.

It will be ok. These four little words have a profound simplicity that I personally find very comforting. Things in life – both good and bad – inevitably pass, change, or evolve. Spring will eventually emerge and with it, light and warmth. Practice visualizing spring each night before going to bed. Picture yourself in the sun, feeling its warmth and enjoying warm, breezy winds. Positive imagery will help comfort you during cold nights and remind that winter will eventually pass.

Get moving. Exercise and movement is critical to one’s emotional well-being. It’s not just about being physical – it’s about doing something healthy for you and your body. Exercise can clear your mind, release tension and stress and give you energy. You don’t have to have a gym membership. Yoga is a fantastic way to get in shape and get warm! The meditative aspects will be like medicine for a troubled mind and the physical poses will release toxins and negative energy. Best of all, it will warm your body making you forget the chilly winds outside.

I heart me. It is during the difficult times that we need comfort and love – not just from those we care about, but from ourselves. Loving yourself means:

  • Using positive self-talk: our inner voice can often be critical and negative. Change this voice to be positive and supportive. Positive self-support can give you inner strength and confidence;
  • Expressing how you feel:  talking out our problems can help us work through them and this can be a very healing process. Verbalizing a problem is like releasing negative energy; it will help you feel emotionally lighter and allow you to gain new perspective;
  • Doing nurturing activities: this can be anything from taking a mini vacation, to enjoying a day off from distractions and obligations.

Channel the darkness into light. Do something creative as an outlet for your sadness. This could be writing at poem, writing in a journal, drawing or creating crafts. Creative tasks can take your mind away from sadness and produce feelings of productivity, pride and fulfillment. Taking a personal development class is another option. Most community centres and/or Universities offer personal development classes in how to cook, how to play an instrument and more. Filling the dark evenings with positive and engaging activities can be a wonderful and healing distraction.

We all go through difficult times and we each process and feel things differently. Cold and dreary weather can enhance sadness, making it harder to cope. Allow yourself the time and support needed to get through the winter season and be good to yourself. Most importantly, remember: “this too shall pass.”


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