Daniel Acosta M.A., AMFT
How to Overcome the Winter Blues
Updated: Nov 27, 2018
If you are beginning to feel this way with Thanksgiving and the holidays rapidly approaching you’re not alone, this isn’t uncommon. Often times when we think about this time of year different images come up for us but the most common ones are centered on family, food, and socially interacting with one another. In some cases there might be an individual that doesn’t feel like they’re getting what they need from their family network, in some instances a disruptive issue in the family dynamic makes this time of year not as appealing as one might think. In other cases we might be struggling with something that makes us feel uneasy about being with family; it could be health related or maybe you have a secret you are living with that you know won’t be accepted well and that adds stress to your life.
Learning to listen to our bodies and minds is a valuable tool. Our bodies and minds give us indicators when something’s not right. This can manifest in different ways with problems like: gastrointestinal issues, heartburn, elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, nervousness, anxiety, depression, and so on. I always recommend for an individual to see their primary care physician as a first course of action just to make sure that everything is medically okay and that you have no health issues. If you get a clean bill of health from your primary care physician then here are some tips you can adopt to help you overcome the wintertime blues.
Strengthen bonds with your support network – This is always a good place to begin because our friends or co-workers can be a resource for us to draw upon. This is especially important when we are struggling with something that might not be looked upon favorably on the home front. Going out with your friends and attending events or activities with them is a good plan. This takes our mind off of a negative thought or idea and puts us in a place where we are engaging with others. This prevents you from obsessing on a negative thought or idea.
Develop healthy habits – When we think about the holidays we can’t get away from the importance of food and drink. Again like previously mentioned you want to first check with your primary care physician to see if you are in good enough health to adopt new routines. Healthy foods, exercise, yoga, journaling, meditation, and self-care are all good ways to do this. When we incorporate healthy habits in our lives we tell ourselves that we do love ourselves and that we are not going to abandon or let yourself down. You are also telling your body and mind that you will provide it what it needs to thrive and to be happy.
Invest time in Self-Care – This is becoming more popular a concept these days and for good reason. When we embrace self-care we are essentially nurturing and loving ourselves. You are the expert on what you need, who better to know when you need self-love and self-nurturing than you? This protects us from stress and negativity. Here are four quick self-care tips.
1. Sleep typically 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day is important for your body to restore cognitive functions, repair itself, and to feel rested physically and mentally to face the day.
2. Gardening even on a patio is fine, when we connect with nature via work in the garden our natural surroundings allow us to stay in our parasympathetic nervous system which is a way to disconnect from stress and soothe self psychologically and physiologically.
3. Laughter, remember if you are laughing you are in a good place, try to laugh multiple times throughout the day and see the impact it has on your mood and mind.
4. Meditation can lead to a 70% decrease in anxiety and a 50% reduction in overall psychiatric symptoms.
Journalize your experiences past and present – Journaling allows us an opportunity to gain perspective, time to unwind and get things off our chest that might be burdening us, and gives us an opportunity to analyze an issue we might have on our minds. We may come to the realization that the issue is not as bad as we had originally anticipated or we may experience a moment of clarity that allows us to come up with and develop a plan to prevail over what is ailing us.
Daniel Acosta M.A., AMFT is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist in Mission Viejo, California. He works with men, women and adolescents and provides individual, couples, pre-marital, family and marital therapy for clients in Orange County. If you would like to schedule a session he can be reached at 949-793-7949 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org