Do you feel tired, anxious, or sad during winter?
If so, you’re not alone. Many people experience the “winterblues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) associated with shorter days.
Don’t fret. In this post I’ll share my 10 tips on how to beat the winterblues with mindfulness.
But first, a few basics.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a kind of depression that appears at certain times of the year. It usually starts in the fall when days get shorter and lasts through the winter. Ref: Canadian Mental Health Association.
Among the symptoms people experiencing this disorder are:
- a general lack of interest in life;
- a tendency to sleep longer;
- and an increase or decrease in appetite.
In other words, life can feel heavy these days for some people.
My experience with the winter blues.
Ever since I moved to Canada (from sunny Mexico) 16 years ago, winter afternoons used to be hard for me. As soon as the clock hit 4 p.m., I started feeling either tired, anxious or sad. Instead of fixing supper, all I wanted to do was crawl into my bed.
After noticing this pattern, I decided to improve my mood during the cold season with prayer, meditation and mindfulness.
Little by little, I began to practice healthy habits in my daily life. For instance, starting and ending the day with gratitude, moving my body, taking breaks from my smartphone, creating a relaxing environment and meditating.
Thanks to these changes I feel more relaxed, focused, and motivated during the dark winter days.
That said, if you also want to beat the winter blues, here’s a breakdown of the habits I follow. They don’t require you to be a religious person or a Zen Buddhist.
All you have to do, is to be intentional in creating joy in your daily routine.
How to Beat the Winter Blues with Prayer, Mindfulness and Meditation
1. Start your day with gratitude.
Just the fact of waking up to see a new day is a gift to be thankful for. I like to express gratitude with a prayer. Other people prefer to write on a journal the things they’re thankful for.
Taking the time daily to reflect on the good things you have, will create instant happiness for you.
2. Move your body.
Unfortunately during the winter the weather isn’t always on our side.
But move your body as much as you can. If the weather is mild, treat your family to an apple picking day.
And if it’s cold outside go for a quick stroll. Every effort counts! 💓
Movement increases your energy, reduces stress, improves your mood and calms the mind and body.
Also, remember to check your posture, take deep breaths and stay hydrated.
3. Do a mind dump.
Get a journal and take 10–15 minutes to write down your thoughts, ideas, things to do, or frustrations. This technique helps to empty your brain and get clarity to focus on new tasks.
Coincidentally, I’m writing down this paragraph at 4:30 p.m. on a gloomy October day, feeling more awake than ever.
4. Drink decaffeinated tea.
I love fixing myself a cup of green tea during the cold afternoons. It helps me to warm up, control my cravings and relax. Moreover, green tea has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep.
Anoter great option is star anise tea. It’s a delicious decaffeinated tea that helps you ease common digestive issues. Plus, you can make a natural anti-ageing face toner with it.
So, the next time you want a hug in a mug, get yourself a nice cup of caffeine-free tea!
5. Read books that feed your mind.
Books are your friends. They help you learn new skills, discover new places and solve many problems. And on top of that, they don’t judge you!
So, find yourself a cozy place to read a book that estimulates your imagination.
6. Take a break from technology.
I understand that technology is key to do our jobs and stay in touch with others. But keeping our minds healthy is important too.
That’s why I recommend you taking intentional breaks from technology throughout the day. Especially when you’re working, cooking, eating, interacting with other people, and before bedtime.
Putting my smartphone in a different room works for me. Try it out, you won’t regret it!
7. Practise a daily 10-minute meditation.
You don’t have to be a Zen Buddhist to get started with meditation. What you need to have though, is the will to practise it for 10 minutes a day.
I understand that life is busy, but your mind deserves to take a break from so much noise.
Learn how to get started with meditation by listening to this easy audio tutorial by Marie Forleo. As soon as you learn the basics, you can do it by yourself without mobile devices.
8. Set a relaxing environment.
You can’t feel happy in a space where you feel overwhelmed. So create a space that brings you joy. Clean your office, set an oil diffuser and relaxing sounds.
Your senses will thank you for it!
9. Say grace before a meal.
Dinner time is the perfect moment to appreciate the blessing of having food on our table. Plus, if you have children, you’ll be teaching them a good habit for life.
So, invite your family to say thanks for the food and each other’s presence with a prayer or a word of gratitude.
10. End the day with gratitude.
Just as you started the day with appreciation, end it that way! Close your eyes, take a deep breath, relax your body and say thanks for the good things that happened to you during the day.
A quiet moment of gratitude will help you feel peaceful and ready to fall asleep.
How can prayer, meditation and mindfulness help you get through the winter.
Research shows that prayer, meditation and mindfulness, may help you feel more compassionate, focused, and calm.
Furthermore, there have been studies that indicate that meditating may improve your health, reduce stress and lower the risk of heart attack.
links to research on the power of meditation.
- The Power of Prayer: Why does it work?
- Harvard neuroscientist’s research shows meditation not only reduces stress, it also changes your brain.
- Mindful meditation as a way to develop compassion.
Wintertime can be hard for many people as days get shorter. But by being kind to yourself and practising prayer, mindfulness or meditation you can feel a lot better.
There you have it, 10 ways to deal with the winterblues:
- Start your day with gratitude
- Move your body
- Do a mind dump
- Drink decaffeinated tea
- Read books that stimulate your mind
- Take a break from technology
- Practice a daily 10-minute meditation
- Set a relaxing environment
- Say grace before a meal
- End the day with gratitude
Practice these techniques consistently to feel more focused, creative, relaxed, and happy.
Enjoy this and every season!
P.S.: Have you experienced the winter blues? What has helped you get through it?
You might also love: How to care for your skin naturally during winter
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