Winter can be a challenging season to endure. The amount of daylight is shortened, thus making the night feel longer. Nature such as trees, flowers, plants, bugs, and animals of spring and summer disappear into a recessed state, leaving much of winter’s pallet to be blends of grays, browns, and gnarled tree branches. Then there are the cold temperatures, ranging from below freezing to 40 degrees, depending on where you live.
Such harsh temperatures can make it challenging to feel like you can do anything; even heading out to get the mail can feel daunting. While there are many contributing factors to why winter affects seasonal affective disorder (SAD) development, recent studies also show a correlation between cold weather, causing anxiety and stress. The anxiety and stress may even feed into SAD and perpetuate your feelings of hopelessness and lethargy. However, there are many ways you can get the most out of your winter days without feeling so bogged down by the season.
Take Time to Unwind
The cold weather can become mentally and emotionally draining; it is also hard on the body. People become sick more frequently in colder months than in spring or summer months. Therefore, the impulse to slow down and stay inside might not be the worst idea. You can use this time to unwind in healthy ways that promote relaxation and de-stressing. Baths, meditating, breathwork, yoga, or mindfulness are great ways to balance your emotions and strengthen your immune system. Take time each day to allow yourself some time to unwind and feel your best. Practicing meditation, breathwork, or bathing closer to bedtime can also contribute to a better night’s rest.
The frigid temperatures may be making your inner self-thoughts colder, too. It is likely that during the winter, you feel that you are not accomplishing as much as you did during the summer, and therefore, you start to view things in a negative light. These thoughts and emotions can further perpetuate budding SAD. Remember to be kind to yourself when you feel overwhelmed by the things you might not be doing. When negative thoughts and to-dos begin racing in your head, take a breath, and engage in activities to help you push through these thinking patterns.
Use this time to write down a list of things you did accomplish or how much you have gained throughout your recovery, especially during a year uprooted by a pandemic. Appreciate how far you have come and tell yourself you’ve done an excellent job. You can also place notes of encouragement around your living space to remind you of how awesome you’re doing. Remember, winter is only one season, and while it might affect your mood and physical state, it does not define you.
Revise Your Goals
You might have created a daily schedule for yourself in previous seasons that you no longer have the motivation to stick with. Understand it is okay to feel this way; it is often hard to find motivation in winter. However, you might be able to re-motivate yourself by revising your needs and goals.
Instead of exercising every day, you can reduce exercise to three times weekly. Instead of waking at six, wake up at eight, if permitted. Try not to let the avalanche of chores and household responsibilities bog you down either. Limit your tasks to one a day; for example, wash the dishes on Mondays, accomplish laundry on Tuesdays, vacuum on Wednesday, and so on. Understand that it is okay to move at a slower pace during winter because you are likely spending more time inside and limited to all your regular outlets’ access. Maintaining a daily structure is more important than how much you accomplish in a given day.
Maintaining your support network should find its way into any of your weekly schedules. Making time for family, friends, support groups, and your therapist or counselor is essential. Studies show that staying connected positively impacts your overall wellbeing, particularly your symptoms related to stress and anxiety. However hard it might feel to connect with others, you will feel better after doing so. Interactions can be simple; you can Skype or Zoom to have coffee or have a Netflix watch along. Make time to stay connected.
Create a Daily Ritual
Whether it is meditation, reading, writing, drinking tea, or breathwork, making a daily ritual not only helps to instill a healthy practice but can become a highlight of your day. Whatever it is, such practices are great ways to express and spend time with yourself. These pursuits also stand to serve your recovery in profound ways in that they help discover the untapped potential within.
The cold winter weather can take its toll on you, but it does not have to get you down. When you remember to pace yourself, reach out to others, and set reasonable expectations, you can significantly combat the anxiety associated with the winter months. Remember that patience and persistence is an effort. You can also feel reassured knowing that there is professional help if you feel like you cannot do it alone. Make seeking help a priority when you think you cannot manage your recovery yourself. At True Recovery, we remain motivated and dedicated to bringing you the best care to suit your recovery needs even amid the pandemic. We stay active through our refined telehealth services, and with 24/7 admissions, there is never a wrong time to reach out. Remember, recovery is a life-long pursuit that needs always to come first. Reach out to True Recovery today by calling (866) 399-6528.