Wednesday, August 6, 2014

how to beat those winter blues away


Ahh so it’s that time of the year again. The skies are grey, the icy cold wind is digging its way through your thick jacket and heading straight to your bones, you have become used to sludging your way around the office in rain drenched shoes, and the faces around you are glum at best. Now I love Canberra. I am the first to sing the praises of this beautiful city. But Canberra winters are the worst. The. Worst. Clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so, judging from the stormy faces around that only seem to brighten up on unseasonably sunny and warm days. Most years I hibernate, only emerging from my apartment when the cherry blossoms start to come out. However, despite my refusal to go anywhere without adequate heating, and ingesting more tea than should be humanly possible, I still find myself hit hard by the winter blues. This year, rather than sit on my butt in front of the heater with an angry expression and a mouthful of complaints, I have decided to embracetolerate the colder months. To help me achieve this goal, I have devised a little list of ways to help keep the summer cheer going right through the colder months:

Go outside. I know, it seems crazy. Who would want to go out in this? Yet despite how much I loathe my afternoon walks in the bitter cold and sleet, I find that just getting some fresh air is enough to lift my mood for the rest of the day. Or maybe I’m just so relieved to be out of the cold that I start to gain more appreciation for temperamental office heating. Either way, it’s an effective and free way to bring some spring back into my step (Spring. Like the season. Geddit?)

Meditate. You would be hard-pressed to find any corner of the internet (G-rated at least) that isn’t singing the praises of meditation. Gone are the days where one needs dreadlocks and a name like Daffodil to enjoy the benefits of this practice. Being a highly-strung person, I have found that just ten minutes of guided meditation in the morning relaxes me for the rest of the day, and also gives me a deeper appreciation of the here and now. Plus there are a million and one guided meditation videos on YouTube, so you can practice it from the comforts of your own home any time that works for you.

Coffee. All hot beverages of any type. This one is a given. Is there anything more comforting that having a warm beverage on a cold day? It’s like getting a hug from the inside…which is far less creepy than it sounds. While buying a coffee a day can be incredibly hard on the wallet (when I worked in a café I thought it would be fun to tell regular customers how much they spent on coffee a year….most never came back after that), it’s quite affordable to bring your own tea and coffee blends to work, plus you can try a lot of interesting new flavours that your local coffee shop probably doesn’t provide (case in point: I have found a blend called ‘Christmas Tea’ and it tastes exactly how the holiday season would were it condensed into tea form).

Road trips. Spending the weekend in flannelette pyjamas with a cuddly dog and a mug of hot chocolate by your side seems pretty perfect, and it often can be, but let’s not forget that there is a whole wide world out there to explore. Road trips are great to break up the monotony of the colder months, as well as being a fun way to reconnect with family and friends away from the little glow of the computer screen. So in the next month you might like to consider taking a trip to explore nearby cutesy towns, heading to see a band you like that is playing in another city, or even just going for a skiing/snowboarding trip to help you remember the things that winter can do that summer can’t, like provide you with metres of snow to fall face-first into.

Cooking/Baking. While I love to bake, particularly this year as I have discovered that you can pretty much make an almost guilt free version of anything and it still tastes amazing (who knew you could make cookies out of chickpeas and cheesecake out of cashews?), it is never quite as fun in summer. Eating yummy treats is awesome, but sweating next to a hot oven in forty-degree heat…not so much. So try to use this winter to experiment with new recipes and make all of the comfort food that you avoid when the temperature starts to soar. Plus you also get to score brownie points from your loved ones by loading them up with yummy baked goods.

Exercise. Every single time anyone writes a list about ways to brighten your day/month/life, exercise always features. Why? Because, unfortunately, it works. I say unfortunately because I love exercise almost as much as I love Tony Abbott. Anything that gets my heart rate up and my breath ragged makes me feel horrendously unhappy….until of course I have finished the exercise, my body is filled with endorphins, and I feel a lot healthier, happier and stronger than I would have if I hadn’t done it. So yes, exercise is a fantastic way to boost your mood, plus keep you nice and healthy. Darn it.

Dream. Plan. Journal. Winter really is the perfect time to get your head in order. Summer is filled with far too much fun…plus things that are easy to do in summer, like go for morning walks/runs, are usually the first things to drop away once the mornings turn frosty. So rather than beat yourself up for letting your new years resolutions fall by the wayside, use all of this new-found free time to step back, take a look around, and start to evaluate where you are and where you want to be.

Get some good books to keep you warm on those rainy days. Why? Because reading is awesome. Full-stop. But seriously, how cool is it that all we have to do is skim over some symbols on a page to be transported into the most amazing adventures? So at least once this winter treat yourself to some new books, and spend the next rainy weekend relaxing in front of the heater or wrapped up in a cosy blanket to soak up some seriously great words and dream the chilly days away.

Watch television. Yep, you read that right. I know, I know, television is making us antisocial, it’s killing brain cells blah blah blah, but I also know this: having a movie night with family or friends is an instant mood lifter on an especially wet and windy day. I’m not advocating spending every free second glued to Days of Our Lives (not least because Days of Our Lives is an awful show), but sometimes what we need is a quiet night in to recuperate. We often feel guilty for taking that time to just enjoy ourselves. We worry that we are not being productive and feel as if we don’t have permission to just relax and switch off for a while. Well here’s some good news for you: I give you permission. Go ahead, enjoy your television. Heck, even enjoy Days of Our Lives if you absolutely have to watch it. You’re welcome.

What about you guys? Do you have any helpful tips for beating the winter blues away?

(Image credit: 1.)

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