One Therapist’s Advice on Preparing for the Winter Blues

Winter is coming.

In some ways, we’re glad to see the changing of seasons, because in a particularly tough year, just the passing of time seems like something to celebrate.

On the other hand, we could be in for an even tougher winter than usual, between increased isolation, a presidential election, and who knows what else, honestly.

Pile all of that on top of the regular winter blues, and most of us are likely to need a few coping strategies before the spring arrives once again.

To that end, Mayra Mendez, a psychotherapist at Providence Saint John’s Child & Family Development Center, had a chat with Bustle on how we can all better prepare.

#6. Keep your space tidy and warm.

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If you’ve got a go-to spot where you spend most of your cold, dreary days, make sure to keep it decluttered, and if you have the inclination and means, spruce it up a bit, too.

“Change the furniture in the home, or repurpose something in the home that seems no longer meaningful.

This strategy activates creative juices and increases the chances that small changes may bring a greater sense of purpose and value to life in the moment.”

#5. Embrace a morning schedule.

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Pair your rising with the sun, if you can, and try to get out of bed about an hour before the sunrise. Ideally, the same schedule works best every single day, and Mayra has advice for getting up early, even on your days off – try volunteering.

“These activities help to reduce isolation, increase engagement in purposeful and meaningful activities, and provide opportunity to positively impact others’ lives.”

#4. Sleep is good.

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A 2016 study found that people who struggle with seasonal blues are more likely to experience sleep issues and even nightmares, so Mayra says it’s extra important to get as much sleep as you need.

“Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day, and keep electronics out of your bedroom.”

#3. Pick up an evening hobby.

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It’s easy to feel restless and lost once your work is done, dinner is over, and there’s a stretch of time before a reasonable adult could go to bed. Distractions are great, and learning new skills is even better!

‘This might include doing a craft, reading a book on your wish list, going to see a movie, cooking your favorite meal or treat, looking up a new recipe, or listening to an inspirational message.

Doing something that is of interest and maybe even a little special offers an opportunity to feel in control and take care of yourself.”

#2. Snuggle up.

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Snuggle with another human (or maybe a pet) makes us happier.

A 2018 study found that touching somebody you love helps regulate stress, soothe emotions, and even boost cognitive performance, so basically, grab a blanket, toss it over you both, and spent some quality time on the couch.

#1. Include exercise in your routine.

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Even if going out in the dreary cold feels like too big of an ask, there’s plenty of exercise you can do at home – yoga videos, or other exercise apps are plentiful and offer tons of options.

“Think about what draws you out of negative mood states at other times of the year. Do not neglect doing the activities that typically bring you joy, such as biking or hiking.”

Well, there you go. These are some great tips that feel easy enough to accomplish, so that’s already a great start.

Do you have some tried and true ways to beat seasonal blues? Share them with us in the comments!