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The Winter Resolution: Fighting the Winter Blahs

Back in 2009, I made what I called “The Winter Resolution.” The goal was to find a way to enjoy winter. Sounds simple, right? Not so much.

Since then, I’ve made some excellent progress and don’t cower as much when the temperature drops. But I still don’t find it easy. It’s not “natural” for me … what feels natural is to run away and not come back until Spring!

This winter is no different. Or maybe it is. Because it somehow actually feels more difficult this year. Although I’ve never really enjoyed being out in the snow, I’ve never minded curling up with a good book and hibernating. But, mentally, it feels tougher this year. I got quite sick in January, and then had a cough that lingered … and lingered … and lingered. Now that it is February and I must face the hard fact that winter is far from over, I have decided that I need to “buck up” and take some action against the winter blahs.

Step #1: Multivitamins

I don’t normally take multivitamins. Don’t ask me why, it’s not like I have anything against them. I just never understood why I would need them if my diet is providing a full spectrum of nutrients. But now I wonder: am I feeling so tired because I’m low on iron? Or perhaps I am feeling glum because my body is desperate for some vitamin D? Regardless, I have decided to take multivitamins each evening. I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks now and although I can’t tell you definitely if they’re making a difference, I suspect they might be.

I’m taking a “women’s formula” and they are not the easiest things to swallow. But c’est la vie.

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Step #2: Walking

Since I started this Winter Resolution, I’ve been gradually investing in better winter gear. Now that I have proper boots, jacket, and gloves, going for a walk in the winter is actually enjoyable (if the wind chill isn’t up). To keep myself motivated (and let’s face it, honest), I am also using a FitBit to track my steps. Each day, I aim for 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. While this might not be much for some, it is a challenge for me to get this many steps in each day. And yet, this is what is recommended for a daily, healthy lifestyle … not to be fit, or lose weight …. just to be healthy. When I can’t bring myself to head out in the cold, I use my treadmill and Mr. Draper. I know without a doubt that I feel less blah and more energetic when I get my steps in.

I broke my original FitBit, so I bought the FitBit Zip at my local Rogers store for $59.99 (you can also buy it online here). I love the thing.

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Step #3: What else?

So, friends, what else can I do to beat these winter blues. I’m been considering using light therapy. My friend Andrea started using a Litebook back in 2006 and she still swears by it. I haven’t forked out the cash for it yet, but I’m close.

Tell me … do you use any tips and tricks to mentally get yourself through the winter months? How are you faring this winter? 

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Comments

  1. You may also wish to get your Vitamin D checked if you haven’t already. I too am a happy hibernator and my vitamin D was down to 14 (eek). That will also play into moods. Any day it is sunny I try to force myself to go outside and sit at the beach in my car even if it is 0*. That is my happy place and even being there in the icy cold makes me feel just a bit better. Hope you feeling well soon!

    • Hi Marci – ha! I love how you can imagine your car to be a beach! I checked my multivitamin and it is 500 IUD of Vitamin D. Maybe us Canucks need more than that to survive the winters.

      • I think she means to check your Vitamin D LEVELS?

        I take 1000 IUD of Vit D all year. I once had a neurology appointment with a female Dr. who strongly encouraged me to tell all my friends/ family living in this climate that they should take Vitamin D. It has been shown not only to improve mood etc. but to help prevent/treat some major diseases, including MS. So, I have been spreading the word for years about its benefit to all who listen.

        for me, winter is ok. I don’t get down so much as I get tired. I wish we were more of an outdoor winter activity kind of family… but currently we are not. We are very lucky in that we do get a lot of sunshine in the winter months. My Mom is British and has lived in Ottawa for many years now. she likes the winter here for that reason.. way more sunshine than she had in UK during those months.

        I also like season and appreciate the changes of nature. I love seeing my perennials coming up in the Spring after a long, harsh winter. I just wish we had a definite Spring start up date- ie . March 10th = Spring arrival. that would definitely make things easier!!!!

  2. Jennerknit says:

    Hi Julie. Love all your tips! I’m a fitbitter too, and would love the support… I’m jennerknit on fitbit.
    I do find February to be the most challenging month in general. The novelty of a good attitude for the winter is wearing off, and the lack of sunshine is catching up. I have a light box you are welcome to try if you like. I’m on and off it depending how things are going. Onward and upward! :) Jl

    • Hi Jennerknit! I will find you on FitBit and we can cheer each other on :) I would love to take you up on your offer to try out a light box – thanks so much! (And yes, the novelty certainly has worn off!)

  3. I hear ya- this winter has been killer! I find a good way to beat the winter blahs is to get away- even if it is just for a day or weekend. A change of scenery and routine can be a good way to re-charge for the whole family. Keep smiling and remember spring is closer than it was a month ago!:)

    • Hey Neighbour! Funny you should mention a getaway … we have one planned for an upcoming weekend and I’m really looking forward to it! (I’d much rather 2 weeks at the beach, but this is not in the cards!).

  4. I take the following: Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C (1000mg) *2, Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin D*2 (but one is ok too) and an Ultimate Flora brand priobiotic (50 billion).

    For vitamins I buy the brand “Sisu” (at Loblaws), it’s a dark green glass bottle. They also have vitamins for kids that I buy for my 4 year old.

    I think this winter is particularly difficult because of the constant temperature and pressure changes. It’s exhausting. But the end is soon-ish :)

  5. sorry, dark blue bottle. not green

  6. I suffer from the same, and it’s just getting worse as I get older. I don’t take a multivitamin (they don’t agree with me) but I do take Vitamin D and B-complex in the morning. The litebook is a huge help – I can’t recommend it enough. Unfortunately I broke it (!) and I’ve had to live without it for the past couple of weeks. Like you, what has helped me immensely is the FitBit, but I find that the timing of when I exercise also comes into play. In January I promised myself that I had to do 20 minutes on the treadmill before checking Facebook, and so far I’ve been able to stick to it. Interestingly, that 20 minutes in the morning makes a huge difference to my energy levels throughout the day. Another thing I’ve done is endeavour to get more sleep. I figure every bit helps. Sigh. I can’t wait until Spring!

    • I have found the same thing — exercise really affects my energy level throughout the day! I love how you’ve mandated yourself to do the treadmill before Facebook. I think I’ll need to pull Facebook off my phone to successfully manage that!

  7. My trick: finding activities you like that also only happen in winter (enjoying winter is key in Edmonton :). I think this is what you were already trying to do with x-country skiing, but winter activities don’t always have to involve cardiovascular work! I love the walking idea (even better, always do it at lunch to get some sun). I have some other things I try to/plan to do, and some of them are just little things I like: enjoying a hot chocolate, finding some fun winter (and outdoor) festivals to go to, watching people do the polar dip, scoping out an outdoor hot tub in the winter (might require begging and/or selective friend making), joining a beginner’s curling league (bonus: there is always a bar), signing up for some type of winter-activity lesson (lessons help me actually go), signing up for the Northern Lights alert (not sure if that’s really doable in Ottawa), treating yourself to the woolliest socks imaginable, putting on said socks (so good!). Finally, as much as possible I try to do all the things I normally would in summer. So I’ll still walk to campus in -30 weather, still try to run (if that’s what you like doing), basically as much as possible just embrace the fact that winter is here and not let it alter your mojo (and also embrace the fact that you live in a city where the air hurts your face half the year). These are just my thoughts in my ever ongoing efforts to love winter (as I used to hate it too). Hope that helps a bit.

    • Adam – these are all really good ideas, thanks for sharing! I’ve been thinking about your suggestion that the activity doesn’t need to be cardiovascular … food for thought. I’m with you on the lessons — it really makes me far more committed to have signed up for a lesson or made a commitment to a friend to do something together. I can pretty much talk myself out of anything, otherwise :)

  8. I agree that this winter has been quite the hurdle. On weekends, I’m in hockey arenas, ON PURPOSE, so it adds to the blahness and my urge to escape.
    To curb all the winter misery I have been trying to connect with interesting and funny gals to hang out with, and so far it’s been fantastic. Between book club, PJ parties avec vin, game nights, coffee nights and trying new restaurants, all the laughter helps keep me sane.
    Running, walking and other indoor physical activities are a must for me as well just because they help me sleep better. Hope spring comes soon!

    • “Book Club, PJ parties avec vin, game nights, coffee nights and trying new restaurants” — now *that’s* the kind of winter activity I could get into! Laughter is my key to sanity too. You’re clever to keep yourself busy with all these fun things!

  9. Oh Julie I’m just the same !! I suffer from major winter blues. I just hate it. What I really need to do it move to the tropics. For sure !

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