First, it is important to have some perspective. Feeling ‘down’ for whatever reason during the winter months can seem very personal, yet there are reasons why so many people are struggling at the same time. Expectations during the “holiday season” can be sky high in many categories which can lead to suffering in various ways.
People who are out of work and/or tight on money may have felt pressured to buy gifts and take vacations during Christmas, perhaps going more deeply into debt. The strong focus on “family time” during “the holidays” is challenging to folks who are already lonely or are missing someone they care about who has passed away.
To “single” people, it can feel like they are surrounded by couples and families, with no one to kiss as is the tradition on New Year’s Eve…and Valentine’s Day right around the corner. It is also common to eat and drink too much from October to December, and January is a typical time for experiencing regret, low energy and often more colds and illnesses. “Happy New Year” indeed…it can be hard to make that happen sometimes. Regardless of why you are having a tougher time during the winter months the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.
If stress over money issues has you wound up or feeling down, it can be comforting to realize that most of the individuals in the world are having concerns about their finances. Even our governments are all complaining about paying their bills, and they get to collect taxes! If you look from a historical and global perspective, the majority of people in the history of humankind have worried about sustaining their basic necessities.
It is interesting to learn more from some of the countries and cultures that have the least amounts of ‘financial ‘security’. It can seem like the poorest people often have the best festivals, music and celebration, along with close families and friendships. Perhaps they have learned better to get by with the resources at hand and define their sense of self-worth on more aspects of their lives than current earning power.
If part of your struggle right now is a feeling of being lonely, this is a good time to find a community to be closer with. It is possible to find like-minded people to connect with based on your religious beliefs, hobbies, political beliefs, the arts or other topic you are passionate about. In the meanwhile, it is important to take care of your needs for physical touch and social contact. There are a range of other specific suggestions in a previous post from Body Aware Grieving titled Romantic Longing and Healing Touch.
Another common source of winter blues is anger with oneself for having eaten more than necessary during the holidays while being less focused on fitness than ideal. Here again, there are plenty of other people feeling the same way. It is natural to be less active when the days are colder and nights are longer. The urge to hibernate and put on a few extra pounds of a ‘winter coat’ is part of nature. Heck, I am a personal fitness trainer and even I just want to be cozy with some snacks and videos when it is rainy!
Being mad at oneself or embarrassed about feeling heavy or unfit usually is not productive. If possible just relax, be kind to yourself and very gently begin some type of physical care and activity. Try to get started slowly and with a loving attitude. When having a “workout” seems overwhelming, maybe a social activity that includes some movement like bowling, playing pool or walking to a friend’s house is appealing to you.
Some of the main advice I give my fitness clients is:
A) Find or buy clothes that are comfortable and help you feel attractive at your current weight.
B) Start any form of exercise very carefully so you do not get injured or run-down and sick. Just do “more than before”. Cheer even the small victories you achieve.
C) Include as many forms of physical pleasure as possible like: hot baths, massages, stretching, look at uplifting visual images like nature, animals or whatever you prefer and wear sensual fabrics that are silky, cozy and fun to have near your skin.
These are just examples, the main point I am making is that accepting and enjoying your current body can be an effective way to encourage even more healthy choices in food and movement. Overall just take life improvements one at a time with as much gentleness as possible. Even if you do not have as much money, romance or pride in your health as you prefer right now, remember that we are all just trying to survive and thrive each day.
Need more help staying happy? Try making a Healthy Pleasures list for yourself as described here.