Winter blues are a very real thing. The days are shorter, darker and grayer. As you look across the landscape in where I live in the North East, it's dormant and bare. It can be quite depressing.
The internal landscape can be challenging as well. For me when things are quiet, and there's seemingly a lack of opportunity, that all makes for a discouraging outlook. Being an artist, who feels deeply, makes this worse. These feelings of despair grab a hold and won't let go. It's like being trapped in quicksand (or at least from what i've seen in movies). The more you struggle, the more it pulls you down.
If you weren't depressed at the beginning of reading this post, you might be now. Aside from clinical depression, which is another matter entirely, how can we shake off these winter blues? Is there any hope?
Here's a 3 things that I've found helpful in my own battle with the blues.
1. Dress for success
Get up. Shower. Shave. Do your hair & makeup (If you're a lady... or if you're in an 80's glam metal band). Put on nice clothes even if you don't have to. As someone who works from home, pursuing my art and entrepreneurial endeavors, it's way to easy to just stay in pajama's or comfy clothes. But pushing yourself to get dressed up forces you to look different, feel different and eventually act different. What does that look like for you in your context? Do you already work in an office where you have to dress up? Take it up a notch. Dress up even nicer. But be warned. You might have to field some “Nice outfit. Job interview today?” Comments.
2. Lean into the hustle
Start moving. All you might feel like doing is sitting on the couch and binge watching Netflix shows, but this is a slippery spiral down. And you never actually feel any better (probably worse, truth fully). Instead, as hard as it might seem to get motivated, get moving. Pick the smallest item on your do list and conquer it. (And don't start with something you already did, adding it to the list just to feel the satisfaction of crossing something out. Yup, busted.) Once you've done that first small task, do another small thing. Let the power of momentum carry you. Work you're way up to something you might have been avoiding for a long while. When you conquer that, you will probably have a pretty good feeling. Like you slayed a dragon. Or watched too much Game of Thrones.
3. Surround yourself with the stories
Again, I'm not talking about stories in the form of Netflix episodes where we're looking escape or be entertained. I'm talking about stories that can inspire us. Stories about others who have endured great hardship and came through victorious. A funny thing happens when we encounter someone who has, or is facing unbelievable circumstances. Suddenly our own woes seem small. The feelings lose their power. We just might find some points of identification that can inspire us. Maybe your own story can then go on to inspire someone else. But it can't do that while you're got your face in that gallon of ice cream, while your hiding under the blanket. In the dark. Listening to Johnny Cash sing "Hurt". There's only one story there, and it's sad. Pick up a book. Talk to a friend. The stories are out there. Go get them!
Bonus round: Travel
This has always fallen into the "must be nice" category for me. Seeing other people pick up and travel to sunny, warm places while I'm stuck in the cold elicits other not so nice feelings. Bust try to that aside for a minute. Focus on what you CAN do. Where you CAN go. Even if it's local. Get out of your surroundings & the monotony of your routine. Go to a park. Take a "mental health day" and go to a nearby city, a museum, or theater to see a play. Take that day trip to that place you've been talking about for years. Go exploring. It's not so important where. It's more putting yourself in a place that's new or different and letting your surroundings speak to you. It can do wonders to change your outlook.
That's by no means a complete list but just a few ideas that have and do help me when I'm battling the winter blues.