It’s amazing that one omniscient yet oblivious rodent can absolutely crush your hope for an early Spring. Across his 120 year history, Punxsutawney Phil (both the original and his predecessors) have predicted 103 prolonged winter seasons, and only 19 early springs.1 That means that if the groundhog is reliable, the chance of an early break to winter is not in your favor. Don’t let the Winter Blues get you down. Embrace what’s left of winter with the following six strategies, and of course, don’t forget to thank Phil for another great year of service.
6 Ways to Help Beat the Winter Blues
- Get Out and Get Active. Data shows that as little as 15 minutes of walking can boost feel-good dopamine and norepinephrine which can reenergize your mood and reduce feelings of lethargy by regulating your circadian rhythm. Strategize your active time by getting outside when the sun is out.2 The days are getting longer every day, so if you can, mix some Vitamin D into your feel-good fitness routine and really boost your mind and energy levels. Grab a fellow teacher and take a mid-day walk around campus at lunchtime. By walking together, you’ll keep each other accountable and motivated.
- Maintain a Consistent Sleep Routine. It may be tempting to wait to get up on weekends until the sun peeks through your curtains, but you’re better off sticking to a consistent routine on weekdays and weekends, regardless of when the sun rises. If you are so not a morning person, introduce a soothing wake-up regimen into your day. Consider, for example, an alarm clock that slowly fills your room with light until your preset wakeup time for a more natural and comfortable start to your day.
- Fuel Your Body with Healthy Foods. The holidays are over, so there are no more excuses to indulge in the kinds of sugary, carb-heavy, nutrient depleted foods that drain your energy and lack positive health benefits. Trade your cozy, Winter, cream-based soups and fresh baked cookies for healthy fruits and vegetables, grilled lean protein, and hearty grains. A healthy diet will keep you feeling energized and will give you the fuel needed for your mid-day exercise sessions.
- Embrace Hygge. Hygge is the Scandanavian belief system of embracing the long, cold, dark days of Winter by purposefully slowing down and spending time at home with friends and family. Start a weekday family game night, join a bookclub, embrace a new DIY home project, and give your mind a reason to embrace cozy nights at home.
- Laugh Loud and Long. One of the best ways to beat the blues is to laugh. Whether you are spending time with friends or indulging in your favorite rom-coms, make sure you are giving yourself ample opportunities to smile big and laugh hard. Experts believe that laughing can counter depressive symptoms (as if you needed an excuse to binge-watch Friends on Netflix).3
- Check Something Off Your Bucket List. Nothing will give you quite the sense of accomplishment like doing something you’ve always wanted to do. Winter may not be the best season for bungee jumping, but consider taking a weekend trip to a city or state you’ve never seen, try a new hobby you’ve been curious about (hello, goat yoga), learn something new (an online graduate course perhaps) or commit to finally reading War and Peace—all 1,225 pages of it.
This winter, don’t let the long, dark days give you the blues. Take back your mood and use the last six weeks of Winter to get healthy, be productive, and spend time with friends and family. We’re pretty sure Punxsutawney Phil would approve.
1. Melina, R. (2019, February 2). How Accurate Are Punxsutawney Phil’s Groundhog Day Forecasts? Retrieved January 29, 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/32974-punxsutawney-phil-weather-prediction-accuracy.html↩
2. Cox, D. (2018, February 5). Seven ways to beat the ‘winter blues’ without medication. Retrieved January 29, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/feb/05/seven-ways-to-beat-the-winter-blues-without-medication↩
3. Borchard, T. (2014, January 6). Laughter Actually is the Best Medicine. Retrieved January 29, 2020, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/study-says-that-an-understanding-of-humor-can-lead-to-new-psychiatric-treatments/↩