Ah, November. While many of us are still enjoying fall weather across the country, we know the inevitable winter season is about to hit. Cold temperatures, minimal daylight and hectic schedules equal winter gloom hitting hard in the cold months.
We all know the feeling: Dark mornings and evening commutes leave us feeling tired and sluggish. The bone-chilling cold gives us the excuse we need to skip the gym, or to stay in our apartments and avoid mobility.
We harbor guilt about feeling anxious and moody during a season of "cheer," though.
Instead of looking to the next few months with dread, here are some foolproof ways to beat the winter blues this season:
1. Find things you love about winter.
Summer is your season for the beach, and fall brings football games and bonfires. What will you look forward to in the winter? Try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Winter can also be your time to get involved in a book club, or to have movie marathons snuggled up on the couch.
Whatever it is, have something you to look forward to this season and make it an activity that is repeated multiple times.
2. Avoid negative talk about the season.
We get it: Winter is cold. There's too much snow, poor road conditions, etc. You can find things to complain about with any season, just as easily as you can find things to love about it.
People love talking about the weather, but if you find yourself stuck in one of those winter-bashing conversations, gently bow out. Even if you aren't the one igniting it, the negativity will stick with you.
3. Get as much sunlight as possible.
This can be tricky, especially with the shortage of sunlight hours in the winter months. A little Vitamin D can go a long way in boosting your mood. If possible, sit facing a window during the day. Better yet, use your lunch hour to walk outside.
Bundle up and enjoy the fresh air; it will give you a renewed sense of energy to finish your day strong.
4. Start your resolutions early.
Who says January 1 is the only time you can get started on resolutions? Get ahead of your peers by making "winter resolutions," rather than New Year's resolutions. Do you want to exercise more? Start volunteering? Get more organized?
By enforcing life changes earlier in the winter, you will have a sense of purpose and focus for the season. It is also a great time to test your self-control; it takes a lot of commitment to stick to changes with the holiday season around the corner.
5. Treat yourself for good behavior.
Committing to a positive outlook in winter can be tough. Likely, you are breaking the cycle of countless years of bad memory association with the cold weather.
Find something small with which to treat yourself for a week's worth of positive thoughts. This could be a glass of wine with friends, or a hot cocoa on a Friday at the office. (Remember, holidays are around the corner; no need to break the bank.)
6. Get the right amount of sleep.
Not too much and not too little. There is a temptation to sleep all day when the weather is cold. Try to stick to seven to eight hours a night. It is just as important to get enough sleep as it is to not oversleep. Set an alarm and stay on schedule.
7. Make lists of things you are going to do every day.
Low daylight hours can make you feel lethargic. By making a list of everything you are going to accomplish in the day, you gain a sense of accomplishment.
Nothing is too little for my list; I put down everything from work presentations to taking out the trash. Grab a fun pen and a notepad and feel the satisfaction of crossing something off of your list.
8. Stay healthy.
In the cold and flu season, you will be constantly surrounded by sick people in your office, at holiday parties, your roommates, etc. Nothing can get your winter mojo down more than being out of commission and feeling crummy.
Keep hand sanitizer in your bag; take your vitamins; drink plenty of water, and keep tea in your home and office. Being sick will give you another reason to be lethargic and it will exacerbate the winter blues feeling.
9. Make a morning/commute playlist.
Radio stations can be another place to hear the gloom and doom of winter. Make an upbeat playlist to start your day off on the right foot. Spotify is your friend; make a playlist of all the songs you love to belt out in the shower or in the car, and start your day with energy.
10. Don't over- or under-commit.
In the November and December months, you will be bombarded with holiday get-togethers, parties and work functions. Remember, it is okay to say no to some things.
Being a "yes man" in the busy season can take you away from your goals and from being with the people you love. You don't have to make every event, but try to maximize your presence at the ones most important to you.
The opposite of this falls after the holiday season, in the January through March months. After the burst of activities in November and December, this second half of the holiday season can leave you feeling melancholic. Don't hibernate; reach out to friends and family to plan fun get-togethers.
11. Volunteer in your community.
Organizations in communities across the country are looking for volunteers all year round. Helping others will give you a sense of purpose and help you keep your life in perspective.
Organize a toy drive at your office, volunteer at a shelter for a few hours a week, pick up a shift at your local hospital. Becoming active in your community will have as positive (if not more) of an impact on your life as it does on the ones you are helping.
12. Dress for the weather.
This sounds so simple, but so many of us overlook this key component to winter success. Peacoats and leather boots are trendy and look chic, but they won't protect you from snow, slush and negative-degree wind chills.
They also will prevent you from lunchtime strolls and picking up a new winter activity. You don't have to completely stifle your inner fashionista, but make a few key changes to your outfits to make the cold more bearable.
Invest in a reliable winter coat. If your cute office shoes are a must, pack them and wear warm boots for the commute. Have a scarf, hat and mittens in your bag, also. Preparation is key.