Short days, cold nights and cabin fever can be enough to give any family the winter doldrums. We’ve come up with the easiest (and some of the weirdest) ways to banish those blues – including some adults-only stuff. Read on!
Think about the things you don’t miss about summer
First things first – quell that love affair you have with summer. It’s over. Move on. It’s just not that into you. Well, for now anyway until in another couple of months’ time when, unsettled by your apparent indifference to it, summer will start behaving like a Tinder bad-boy and send you random and increasingly frequent reminders of its existence (“heyyyyyyyyy baby, how YOU doin’?”)
OK… so what sucks about summer? Allow me to jog your memory with this little ditty (sung in the tune and approximate rhythmic structure of Billy Joel’s “We didn’t start the fire”).
Sand wedged up your bum, way too much Coke and rum,
Hot nights, kid fights, long school holidays.
Crappy things on the TV, concrete burns on your bare feet,
Bus B.O., sweat-io, sunburn on your face.
Unfortunately I’ve run out of awkward rhymes for now, but you get the picture!
While it’s tempting to curl up on your couch and binge on Netflix all winter, this very inactivity will only serve to exacerbate your low mood. So get out there and go on some family walks or have a run around in the park. If the weather is too awful, throw on some summer tunes and dance around your living room like a drunk uncle at a wedding.
Not only will exercise increase your endorphins (the feel-good chemicals) in the short term, it will also help improve any depression and anxiety symptoms in the longer term by changing your brain structure and function. Really!
The light deprivation associated with the darker, shorter days of winter (as well as the tendency to want to stay indoors) is thought to contribute to the winter blues. The solution? Get some light. This can include natural light, such as spending more time outdoors or throwing open the blinds and curtains in your home.
For more serious cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder, certain types of artificial lights may be helpful. Just sitting near a light therapy box can help alleviate the blues. There is also something called wake-up lights where, instead of being jolted awake by a traditional alarm clock (a process that is associated with increased stress), these lights mimic a natural sunrise, slowly emitting more light 30 minutes to 2 hours before your desired waking time.
Hold a pencil in your mouth
Several psychology studies have shown that holding a pencil lengthways across your mouth (from one cheek to the other cheek) forces your face into a smile, tricking your mind into thinking you’re happy.
However, if you prefer not to look goony or if you have young children who can’t be trusted around pointy things, ditch the pencil and simply rearrange your face into a smiling position as demonstrated below:
For a more authentic way of putting a smile on your dial, get the fam together and throw on some funny cat videos or a good comedy.
Hygge refers to the art of creating cosy environments to promote feelings of wellbeing. In Denmark, a country known for its long and bitter winters, hygge is a way of life and likely contributes to the country’s status as one of the happiest on earth.
How do you get hygge-y? It’s really easy and you may be doing some of these things already. It’s all about ambient lighting, soft cushions, hot chocolate, and good company. For more tips on how to hygge up your life, see our previous blog here.
The science tells us that good quality sex is associated with happiness.
But did you know that simply thinking that you’re having more sex than other people is enough to boost your happiness levels? Yes folks – you read it right here. The mere thought that you’re getting it on more frequently than Sanctimonious Susan from your Mother’s Group will apparently give you a glow that no amount of real sex can hope to achieve!*
Please note, however, that the research emphasises a comparison with your peers, so don’t cheat the system. Telling yourself that you’re getting more action than your 95-year-old neighbour will not be effective – particularly if it turns out not to be true (lucky Walt).
For those of you who are big on honesty, integrity, not lying to oneself or others, and all that kind of jazz, why not make it true by actually having more sex? Think of the endorphins, bonding and exercise, not to mention a rather fun way to stay warm.
Surround yourself with beauty
Just looking at beautiful things will help boost your mood. So make some simple changes around your home, like some bright, cheery paintings and fresh flowers. Feel your happiness rise by gazing lovingly at your spouse, sleeping children, or that bottle of wine in the fridge – whatever floats your boat.
Cold weather can increases feelings of loneliness and isolation simply because you’re not as motivated to go out and socialise.
To keep your spirits up during the winter, keep arranging playdates with your kids and their friends, and stick around for those post-soccer debriefs and sausage sizzles instead of rushing home to get out of the cold.
Eat happy foods
There are lots of foods out there that are natural mood-boosters. For example, beets and asparagus are full of serotonin-inducing nutrients and folic acid (which help stabilise mental health). However, if you don’t rate your ability to convince the kiddies – or yourself – to consume beet and asparagus pie (yum!), you can also try the following happy foods:
- Brazil nuts
- Spinach and other dark greens
*Yes, eating chocolate can raise endorphins and serotonin levels. But – party-pooping disclaimer ahead – this only applies to dark chocolate. So if you’re anything like me and have the palate of a 5-year-old, just be aware that the health benefits of Caramello Koalas are fairly limited.
Play with your ears
This one might make you look a little odd (though no odder than sticking a pencil in your mouth), but massaging the outer rims of your ears is thought to help relieve stress.
Give back to the community
If you and your family thought you had the winter blues, spare a thought for those who are homeless and have to endure the cold with little hope of relief. The whole family can participate in food drives and other initiatives in your local area. Even doing something small like sorting out clothes for donations will lift your spirits as well as do some good for your community.
A Norwegian study shows that the more you participate in cultural activities, the higher your happiness levels. So make the best out of the miserable weather and take the family to museums, plays or any festivals your town might be holding.
Check out these personalised winter warmers from Stuck On You!