10 ways to beat the winter blues [OR when the sun doesn’t shine for two months]

Gray skies, rain, and general sloppiness. Mud, muck, and misery. This has been our winter – or is it “sprinter”? A strange mix of winter and spring but without the essential components: snow (winter) and sunshine (spring).

January and February are difficult months for lots of peeps. I’ve watched a lot of my students struggle as the sunless stretch seems to go on and on…

Surviving the winter blues isn’t easy, but there are a lot of ways to CHOOSE JOY when the sun refuses to shine. Here are just a few.

  1. Start your day with your favorite yummy beverage and 10 minutes of something you love. Being kind to ourselves is a good way to shake off the sadness. A hot cup of green tea and 10 minutes of my favorite book or devotional starts the day right. If it means you have to get up early, well so be it! Our temptation is to snuggle under the covers for longer when it’s better to get going. It’s also a good idea to do some stretches or exercise – especially if you don’t feel like it.
  2. Listen to something inspiring in the car. I love the news as much as the next guy, but what I do in the morning sets my mood for the day. Lately the news hasn’t been so uplifting. I love Audible – and I have lots of audio books just waiting to motivate me to be better. Right now I’m vacillating between two different books. One of them is Mark Batterson’s In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. It is about how we can survive and thrive…nothing better to wake me up and inspire me to be better!
  3. Greet everyone with a smile. The best time to smile is when you DON’T feel like smiling. Do it anyway.
  4. Do something special for someone ELSE. On these dreary days don’t you just WISH someone would do something nice for you? Beat the blues and send a greeting card using this great app called Felt. You handwrite the card on your device and they seal, stamp, and mail it for you. I have a subscription and I love it. When we do stuff for others we forget our own yuck for a bit. We get perspective when we look at others and not just ourselves.
  5. Intentionally breathe. My Apple Watch has this crazy thing that comes up every few hours – and it literally tells me to breathe. There’s a little vibration on my arm as I breathe in deep through my nose and out through my mouth. I may sound insane, but there is something that happens when I sit and concentrate on breathing for a bit.
  6. Music. There is so much power in music. At your desk, in your car, in study hall, wherever you can, choose some music that makes your heart beat a little faster. It’s different for all of us, but whether I’m listening to Bethel Music or Jack Johnson, music makes meaning for me. Just for fun, pretend it’s the soundtrack for your movie debut (I love doing that).
  7. Eat right. Putting garbage in our bodies does not help us feel any less depressed. You’d be surprised how much organic and natural foods will help you feel altogether healthier. If you want some more inspiration to eat healthier, check out Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, a documentary about a guy who has a transformational change when he changes his eating habits.
  8. Purge or Project. Those two words look a little too synonymous with puking, but they are NOT (if you know me you would understand this has NOTHING to do with puking). Good choices during the doldrums are either to purge a bunch of stuff (Brady and I are doing that now – check out The Minimalists for more stuff to get rid of) OR to start a new project. Create a blog or dig up a fun DIY on Pinterest. Make your dog a coat. Serve food to the homeless. Just get active and moving around your house.
  9. Join the gym or hook up with an exercise guru. My friend Jennifer is a Revelation Wellness instructor and loves their faith based workouts you can do right from home – and even in your CHAIR! There’s really no excuse anymore – with YouTube and all kinds of apps, exercise is at our fingertips. My personal preference? Riding my bicycle on my indoor trainer. I don’t always want to do it, but when I do? It feels SO GOOD.
  10. Hang out with Jesus. I know some of my readers may not be Christians – but I can’t even explain the fulfillment of quiet time praying and reading my Bible. There are so many comforting and encouraging words! Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite bloggers and she has some great scripture memorization you can do to be encouraged when you are just DONE being without the sun.

OH – and there’s a BONUS.

Do something CRAZY. Our family has been known to do snow angels, sing O Canada on the first snow day of the year,  travel around town doing the Dollar Difference or take a No Complaining Challenge. Doing something OUT OF YOUR COMFORT zone will definitely distract you from the lack of shiny sun.

Let’s just be real. We’ve got good lives. We are blessed. I’ve lost my dad, faced cancer, and had my share of problems. But this life – it is meant to be lived, and lived to the FULL. So let’s beat the blues together.