As we head into the winter months, it gets harder to keep a positive attitude. For those of us that have lived in New England for many years or were born here, we have a rough exterior and a stiff upper lip when it comes to New England weather. It’s part of what we “weather” in order to enjoy the beautiful fall, the Cape and Islands in the summer and living in a great city.
But as November begins and the threat of winter is upon us, we need to work harder to keep our mood upbeat. So, in an effort to head off a case of the winter blues, here are some tips to keep you shining:
Read about the weather; don’t watch the local news. The local news has become as much about entertainment and ratings as it is about reporting things in a factual and non-biased way. Even something like the weather has become more about drama (“torrential”, “ brutal,” “downpours” – cue booming music) and it seems, less about reporting the weather in a factual way. I’ve switched to reading the updates of many of our local newscasters on Facebook each morning. I read it and plan accordingly. Much less stress!
Don't get sucked into negative talk about the weather. Talking about the weather is a common topic among neighbors. But as our weather goes downhill, try to avoid using it as a topic to start off every conversation. Your mood is, in part, determined by what you say and what you think, so instead of stating the obvious (“Man, it’s awful outside!”) try to open a conversation with something pleasant. If anything, be aware of your tendency to harp on the bad weather and see how you feel if, for a few days, you skip that conversation starter. You just might feel better.
Have the right stuff to wear to weather the storm(s): Last year, I got one of those long puffy coats and tall rubber boots. They were an expense, but I’ll have them forever. I don’t feel very svelte in them, but I’m warm and dry. Figure out what you need based on your lifestyle (commuting, standing all day, working in an office) and see if you can swing buying a few things. At least you’ll be prepared which can help keep your mood a bit more neutral.
Keep moving! One of the best mood changes is exercise! It’s harder in the winter months but it’s essential for maintaining a healthy weight, releasing some “feel-good” endorphins and giving yourself a feeling of being connected to your body. I prefer yoga and running all year round, but as the winter settles in, yoga becomes my exercise of choice. Find a friend to partner with, try a new class or even try some online yoga and exercise programs.
Eat fresh foods! Your mood is also impacted by what you eat. As much as we love comfort food in the winter months, that doesn’t mean we have to eat heavy, processed stuff. Look for seasonal fruits and vegetables. Try winter soups, like carrot, squash or pumpkin. Visit farmers markets while you can.
Plan some fun activities that take advantage of the outdoors and are great exercise: Cross country skiing, ice skating, running after a snowstorm, taking a brisk walk through the Boston Common in the cold. These are all things you can only do in the winter and instead of hunkering down inside, bundle up and face it head on! If you bring a “can do it” attitude to the activity, your energy will soar and will sustain you for the rest of the day. Even shoveling snow, while a huge effort, is great exercise. Just remember: go easy in the morning and bend your knees to preserve your lower back.
Make a summer vision board: As we head into the midst of the cold, I post magazine pictures in my kitchen on the cabinets of tropical locations. Each morning when I look at them, I’m reminded of the warm and it lifts my mood a little bit.
Meditate: It’s the answer to a lot of our struggles but the hardest to do. But, if you can try to sit still for 5 to 10 minutes each morning, you’ll start your day grounded and centered, regardless of what it’s doing outside. One of my yoga teachers used to refer to your “inner weather” and it’s so true. Try to let your mood be more determined by how you feel on the inside and not what it’s doing on the outside.
Surround yourself with upbeat people and things: Happy friends, fresh flowers, upbeat music, inspiring television shows, good books, funny movies, delicious food, fun exercise and warm fuzzy mittens and a fun hat can all elevate your mood in the winter. I like to go to Target at the beginning of the winter season and buy some inexpensive gloves, hats and scarves in bright colors. They make me smile when I put them on.
Remember, your mood is up to you! Don’t let someone else or the weather steal if from you!