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Beating the Winter Blues

Beating the Winter Blues

| February 16, 2024

Beating the Winter Blues

Even folks who love speeding down the slopes, gliding across frozen ponds, or building snowmen with their kids can experience mental health struggles during the winter months. Shorter days and gray skies mean less exposure to sunlight, which can affect your mood and sleep cycles. Cold temperatures and snow can make it hard to keep up with your usual exercise routine and favorite outdoor activities. And folks who just can't stand the cold might spend more time alone at home than usual. If negative feelings pile up, you could risk developing Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a potentially serious form of depression that requires medical attention.

These four activities can help brighten your winter blues and warm your Return on Life.

1. Get outside your house.

OK, so cold weather and slushy streets aren't your favorite. You can still bundle up to walk your dog around the block or check on an elderly neighbor. Or just hop in your car and mix up your routine. When was the last time you went to a movie, relaxed in a coffee shop with a good book, or went into the store to shop for groceries instead of having them delivered?

Picking up a winter sport could also make the cold months a little more bearable. Rather than compounding your bad mood with frustration and, potentially, injury, learn how to ski or ice skate from a coach. Or take your kids or grandkids sledding. Even if you don't join them for the ride, their enthusiasm might rub off on you.

2. Exercise.

Inside or outside, getting your body moving and your heart pumping can improve your body chemistry, decrease stress, and improve your mood. If winter sports don't appeal to you and you don't want to walk or run in the cold, explore gym memberships or exercise classes. You could also turn your bedroom or living room into a part-time gym. You don't need to buy new equipment to get in some basic exercise while you're watching your favorite show or listening to your favorite podcast. Following along with an online yoga or meditation class could help you learn something new while improving your physical and mental health.

3. Spend time with friends and family.

Folks who are susceptible to the winter blues might go through extended periods of isolation that only make their depression and anxiety worse. Consider working some time with loved ones into your schedule, like a weekly family dinner or attending your grandkid's hockey games. You could even offer to host get-togethers so you have something to do on those days when you'd rather not brave the cold. 

4. Travel someplace warm.

And if you have some family or friends to visit who live in warmer climates, even better!

A change of scenery and some sunshine could go a long way towards improving your mood. You also might be able to enjoy some of your usual warm weather activities, like taking a morning run or playing a round of golf. If you're especially vulnerable to winter blues, you might start scheduling an annual winter vacation around a lull at work or a long weekend at your kids’ school. Retirees might consider becoming "snowbirds" who spend the winter months in warmer parts of the world, either travelling or living in a second home.

Whether you need to try some new activities or make a major lifestyle change during the winter months, your Life-Centered Financial Plan is always ready to support you. Schedule an appointment and let’s talk about the resources available to you and how you can get more Return on Life throughout the year.