Beating those Bleak Mid-Winter Blues

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s having a tough start to the year. With the Fifth Wave circulating, stressful decisions about school closures, and the usual “bleak mid-winter” darkness of the Pacific Northwest, I think we’re all just hanging in there until the spring. Inspired by my friend Mel’s recent post about self care I wanted to share some of the ways that I’ve been keeping my head above water so far in these first trying weeks of 2022.

Movement. I don’t want to say exercise because that often suggests a “weight loss” agenda, especially at the outset of a new year, and that isn’t at all what I mean. Moving your body helps so much to keep things in perspective, get yourself out of the house in the winter, and just to clear your mind. I’ve been making it a priority to move every single day and it’s been having a super positive effect on my headspace day to day. Some days I’ve felt energized and motivated to do a more intense movement like running or cycling, but some days I just do stretches before bed or a short yoga video. Sometimes I only have time for a kitchen dance party with the kids but other times it feels good to do a heavy, slow strength workout with dumbbells.

Meditation. I’ve had problems falling asleep since I was a teenager and had mostly gotten a handle on it, but pandemic parenthood has given me a lot more to ruminate on after the sun goes down and it’s been back with a vengeance lately. Doing a 20 minute sleep meditation in the evenings has really helped me acknowledge and breathe through my anxieties without letting them take hold of my mind. I used to think it was a bit “woo woo” but there’s something to be said for mindfully acknowledging your feelings without the pressure of trying to turn them off, ignore them, or change them.

Creative Projects. Bob Seger once said that he writes most of his stuff in the winter and I must admit that my own creativity spikes in winter, too. The summer makes me feel too lethargic to get anything done but the energy of the new year always makes me feel invigorated. Just like I need to move my body I also need to move my hands, and I’ve been revisiting half-finished crochet and sewing projects and constantly jotting down ideas for new articles and blogs. Is it easier to create when we have less stimuli? Who knows, but I’m embracing it while it’s here and I have the time.

Home Improvement Projects. I’ve always been a homebody but even I’m not used to spending quite this much time in my own house. Small-scale, achievable, budget-friendly DIY home improvements always help me feel like I’m steadily moving forward through the fog of January and February toward brighter days. I know I’m gonna be super busy with work this summer so it’s been nice to get things done to help us continually fall back in love with our home. Sometimes these projects are fun, like painting (my fave!) and sometimes they’re tedious, like organizing bathroom clutter or going through kids clothes, but they always make me feel light and happy once they’re done. Everyone likes the feeling of accomplishing a task, right?

I do want to acknowledge that not everyone has the time or energy these days to get stuff done and if you’re not there right now, by all means bask in the joy and contentment of Doing Nothing! Rest is so important and I sincerely hope we all get some. But if you feel that your mind needs some distraction or you just need something to propel you through these next two months (anyone else counting down the weeks until the time change?) then hopefully you can gain some motivation or learn something new!

Hope you’re all having a healthy month.

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