I am famous, or perhaps infamous, for my yearly meltdowns. I become so grouchy and terrible to be around during the months of January and February that I wonder how I've kept any of my friends, any at all. I always wonder why it is that I'm feeling so generally awful about life when I look at a calendar and realize, "oh, yes, that's right, I do this every year, I hate winter."
One of the reasons I think I've recently been so affected by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is that, growing up in St. Louis, while the weather was certainly sub-tropical during winter months, I still had sufficient sunlight and the dreariness didn't hit levels that would totally destroy my spirits.
Heading off to college in Maine, however, was an entirely different story. My school has a special short January term during which students take one intensive class or have the opportunity to take on an internship or study abroad for the month. My freshman year, I took a very interesting class on film and gender in the 1960s, which I loved. What I did not love was that my class went from one to four pm. Being a wild and crazy college kid, I found myself in a routine that would get me up at about 11 am just in time to get ready, eat lunch, go to class, get out of class, and woops! It's 4 pm, dark already and you want to cry. The following January, I spent the month in Costa Rica. I would recommend that particular path to anyone trying to avoid SAD.
In the event that you aren't in college and have a 'job,' a 'budget,' and 'responsibilities' (ew, ew, and ew), I have found a few tactics to stave off suicidal/homicidal tendencies that I'd like to share with you:
1. Vitamin D supplement - I take it every morning with breakfast. This time of year means less sunlight, and therefore less Vitamin D which is a definite cause of mopeyness.
2. Sticking to a regular routine. I know it's dark outside, but wake up anyway! Enjoy a hot beverage and if you can, get a quick walk in before work in the morning. The chill will certainly wake your face up!
3. Don't sleep so much! It's so tempting to sleep in and take naps when the weather is gross and, as mentioned about 12 times so far, it's really dark outside. But don't! It'll only make you feel even more sluggish than if you had just gotten up and powered through the day.
4. Exercise! Even if you are stuck on a treadmill, do something - it'll help you feel more energized. I highly recommend taking a hot yoga class, whether it's a Bikram class or a Hot Vinyasa class. The cold winter air will feel amazing afterwards! Also, so long as it's not snowing/sleeting/icing, running outside in the cold is quite refreshing and easier on your bod than running in a heat wave. Remember August? Gross.
5. Eat healthfully. Don't allow your hibernating tendencies to make you think you actually need to fatten up - you are not a bear, my friend. Eating excessive sweets or fatty foods might be comforting, but again, they will slow you down. Resist!
I'm going to address further ways to handle this yucky season with one of my favorite methods of holistic healing later, Ayurvedic Yoga, so get excited about that!