Dealing with the Winter Blues: Practical Solutions Part IIl

Posted on: Tue, 02/22/2022 - 16:02
By: Richard Lange, Ph.D., LPC, LCSW


Be Still.

Years ago, there was a food fad called a macrobiotic diet. It no longer exists as it is nutritionally unsound. However, one aspect of the diet remains: eating food from the season. If you followed this diet, you then would eat the food of the season:  spring, you would eat strawberries, lettuce, and berries and summer, what is available, moving through fall produce and finally in winter eating more root vegetables, and grains. While this diet is not recommended, there is some value in considering that seasons affect our emotional state. 

We feel so blah in the winter because we are aware that our bodies might simply be responding to winter and naturally slowing down, maybe even going into a bit of hibernation. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, "34% of U.S. adults say they sleep more during winter. For many, the dark, cold winter months are a time to catch up on sleep." Everything slows down in winter, and you should too. Winter is a good time to practice being still.  

Learn not to rush things. You still might have many things to do, emails from work, paperwork to complete, repairs in your home or apartment, appointments to make. Stillness does not mean that you still idly by and do nothing. Instead, stillness is the ability to do things at a slower rate. 

The idea of slowing down comes to a concept known as mindfulness. In mindfulness practice, rather than constantly being distracted by your thoughts, you should pay attention to whatever you do in the movement, which could be even the simplest things. For example, let's say you are washing the dishes: notice the feel of the water, the smell of the dish soap, the way the bubbles form in the sink. Next thing you know, the dishes are done! 

The next time you start feeling the winter blahs, when things look like it is never going to get better, and spring will never come, take a few moments and be still. Stop what you are doing and rest for five minutes. Then, come back to your task and give it your full attention. Even if it's a dull routine task, find something exciting or new about it. Pay attention, be patient, enjoy being still for a few moments.