Growing up in the sunny temperatures of Cape Town, South Africa meant that I was always active and always outside. From extra-curricular sports like Tennis or Soccer, or weekends spent walking along the beachfront, I was always blessed with healthy doses of Vitamin D and tropical breezes. I love taking walks, swimming, and reading outdoors. I loved (and still love) the summertime; the general atmosphere is that of fun and curiosity to visit new places, or relax in familiar spots. Less time cooped up inside meant I was always on the go, and if I was at home, me and siblings would spend 80% of our day outside in the garden.
When we all immigrated to Canada, the extreme weather change and snow was something of excitement initially, but gradually turned into something we dreaded every year. As I got older the excitement of winter dwindled; it seemed like it slowed EVERYTHING down, no one wanted to be outside, I wasn’t at all interested in winter sports, and I developed a very high sensitivity to the cold. How does one explain feeling COLD IN THE BONES? That is how my body felt in the winter. A stiff, cold lump of flesh.
Let’s move onto the meat of this post; how the winter affected me mentally and emotionally.
Oh boy. It was rough. Shorter days meant that I was at school or work and immediately ready for bed by 5PM. The commutes back home made me feel lethargic and not in the mood to go out with friends and family. On weekends and holidays, the self-inflicted isolation was evident and getting worse. What I wanted to achieve in my life seemed so of out of reach. I felt like I had to wait for summer to workout again, get photoshoots done, and check out places that I would otherwise avoid in the dead of winter. Getting out of bed seemed like a chore, I felt hopeless and lazy. I had gained weight and started to resent everything about Canadian winters.
I then came across an article on seasonal affective disorder or SAD, and a light bulb immediately lit up in my head. I didn’t want to self diagnose, but the symptoms all made sense. What surprised me even more was how common it all was. I immediately made the decision to not fall prey to this cycle. The extreme change in personality and zest in life which I exhibit in the summer, just didn’t show up in the winter…and I wasn’t the only one.
Disclaimer: I’m not a healthcare professional and if you DO feel like you have seasonal depression please inquire about it or speak to your doctor. These are just MY ways of combating the seasonal blues.
Create a realistic and fun “at home” winter routine
After a long week of work, on the weekends I typically run errands, clean and/or go out. If you are too cold to go out, create a healthy and productive “at home” routine. Get up before noon, and light up some candles, read, clean up, and take care of yourself. Don’t get too serious with this one! The goal is to get up at a reasonable time and ease into tasks, and then end the day off with an activity you love.
Invest in some Vitamin D capsules/tablets
If you live in colder temperatures like Canada or the northern part of the U.S. Vitamin D deficiency is super common. Invest in some sunlight in a bottle or eat foods/drinks high in Vitamin D such as Salmon (or fatty fish), eggs, mushrooms, orange juice etc.
Plan a tropical vacation
If you have the means and the time off from work/school, try planning and going on an all inclusive vacation. You will feel rejuvenated, relaxed and ready to tackle the cold again.
Plan or go to “winter-themed” events
I personally struggle with this one because I couldn’t be bothered with skiing etc. However, if there is a winter themed event like a winter market or pop up event that serves hot drinks and interesting finds, go for it! Another one is to plan a winter getaway with some friends; cosy cabin, board games, the outdoor jacuzzi…. 😉
Keep in touch with friends and family
This sounds really simple, but isolating yourself is quite common with SAD. Make sure you regularly text friends and family; you’d be surprised how much they can lift your spirits up/want to catch up with you!
Plan for the BEST UPCOMING SUMMER EVER.
This is my favourite one; winter time is slow time for me in general. Winter time is the prep for summer time. I’m now working out more, look up concerts/events that interest me, and treat winter as my productivity months and my catch-up-on-TV-and-books months. I also get all those boring appointments out of the way as well, because come Summer…. sis… I’m out and about!
Change up your style
Opt for new makeup looks and try a different winter style, Change is always good and the process is always fun! Dye your hair a darker colour, or buy a new coat!
How do you deal with winter blues? Let me know!