The holiday season lasts longer than you think. Christmas and New Year’s segue into MLK Day and then Valentine’s is right around the corner with President’s Day and St Patrick’s Day not far behind. All those holidays can lead to some form of depression and make us wonder how to beat the winter blues.
It can feel like you need to fill all these occasions (even the minor ones) with big memories, parties with your friends, or special events. And going out and getting crazy can get expensive and exhausting.
And when you look at the question of how to beat the winter blues in a place like Minnesota, you are looking for solutions that stretch well into the official start of spring. Because, like Prince said, sometimes it snows in April.
So how do you have fun when you’re sick of the winter wonderland around you without doing the same thing over and over again? The snow is going to be around for a while. So how do you beat the monotony?
Take a Break from Alcohol
We know that winter is depressing, but one thing that can make it worse is waking up with a brutal hangover. And alcohol is a depressant, so while you may have a good time when you’re out drinking, eventually, if you’re depressed, the booze is going to make it worse.
There are lots of things you can do for fun without alcohol. Whether spending time with friends or on your own, you don’t need to drink to have a great time in cold weather. Here are a couple of ideas for how to deal with winter depression without taking a drink.
Go for a Run
Really, any exercise can help you feel better, but getting into running can be one of the easiest forms of exercise to embrace on your own. After all, you don’t need a spotter to take a jog. And you can do it outdoors or at a gym, depending on your tolerance for cold weather.
Get into Food
There are so many interesting, unique, and affordable restaurants out there. Instead of going out drinking, get your friends together to go try new foods. You can pick food from a different culture to sample from week to week to really get a taste of the world around you.
And if you would rather stay in, you can teach yourself how to prepare new recipes. Whether you’re inspired to try baking or you want to whip up the fare for a fancy dinner party, cooking can be a great way to stay warm while beating the winter blues.
Take Up a Hobby
Maybe you had a hobby you really liked that you haven’t picked up in a while or you want to finally get into that new activity that you’ve seen online. Engaging with a hobby can be a great way to refill your internal gas tank without the need to drink.
Whether you indulge your inner nerd by building models of Gundams and other geeky vehicles or you want to embrace the beauty of the world around you by picking up photography, engaging with a hobby can be a great cure for the winter blues.
Go Out but Don’t Drink
Of course, if you love going to the club and getting crazy with your friends, nothing says that you have to stop. But nothing says you have to drink while you’re out, either.
Lots of places have non-alcoholic drinks on offer that are more exciting than water or pop. From virgin cocktails to an increasing selection of non-alcoholic craft beers, you can still get interesting stuff to drink without worrying about an epic hangover the next day.
Go Big to beat the winter blues
When you look at how to beat the winter blues, you don’t have to cut alcohol out of your diet if you don’t want to. Maybe the best move for you is to take the things you enjoy and do them bigger than you have before.
Do you like to hit the club? Do you love the events at The Pourhouse? Why not step up your night by getting VIP bottle service? Take your night to the next level. After a night of VIP treatment, you may find yourself asking, “What is winter blues anyway?”
Take a Trip
If you’re looking for solutions for how to beat the winter blues, one option is to get away from winter. One of the greatest vitamins for winter depression is Vitamin D—the kind you get from sitting in the sun.
Head to a beach in Florida or California. Go down and party in New Orleans. If you’ve got the funds for it, make your trip international. Hit a resort in the Caribbean. Because chances are good that, even if the locals think it’s cold, it will be warmer and sunnier outside in those areas than anywhere you’ve been in months.
Prioritize Your Mental Health to fight the winter blues
When talking about how to beat the winter blues, it is easy to focus on activities and hobbies and the stuff you do with your friends, but there is a more serious side to consider. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be absolutely brutal.
So if you’ve been trying to get out and try new things and you still find yourself having a big deficit of energy, you may be dealing with something more serious than winter blues.
Recognize the Symptoms
While SAD affects everyone a little differently, there are a few symptoms that stand out as consistent across a wide range of people who suffer from the condition. So take a look at how you’ve been feeling and see if maybe these symptoms are present for you.
- Sleep Problems
- Feeling Down and Unsociable
These symptoms can manifest in a number of ways. You may find yourself having trouble taking care of tasks that you would otherwise have finished in a snap. You may find yourself feeling tired all day until you lie down—and all of a sudden, you can’t fall asleep to save your life.
What can you do when your winter blues have blossomed into full-blown SAD? Many winter depression tips are similar to the suggestions made in the “Take a Break from Alcohol” section above. But there are a few other things you can do to help yourself out of the blues.
Surround Yourself with Warmth
In addition to keeping your body temperature up, surrounding yourself with warm colors can really help out. In the winter, the sky and the ground can blend together in a single mass of white and gray. Making your personal environment bright and shiny is a great way to combat this.
So try painting as a hobby. Or go get your nails done in eye-catching reds or oranges. Make the world around you look the way you want to feel inside.
Talk with a Therapist to tell you how to beat the winter blues
Many therapists have sliding pricing scales and can offer a great deal of help to people that need it. For many people, antidepressants won’t even be prescribed. Your therapist will help you identify negative thoughts and behaviors, and give you tools to circumvent them.
Do What Works for You
Whether you have SAD or just a mild case of winter blues, the important thing is that you recognize what you need and take steps to help yourself out. The world is tough enough. You don’t need to make it any harder on yourself.
When you look outside to see another snowstorm in late March and your heart drops into your shoes, don’t lose hope. You have options for how to beat the winter blues. Maybe the first one won’t work on its own, but by combining a few activities, you can come through the other side.