Whether they’re physical or spiritual, winter seasons are hard. And they can sometimes feel like they’ll never end, that the world will be cold and dark forever. Eventually the day comes when we see signs of new life, but until then, there are ways to beat the “winter blues.” And the tactics I’m about to share help me not only survive the harsh season, but thrive in it.
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Today is the first day of winter, and I have to tell you, I hate winter. Like, I really hate winter. The cold temperatures, the short days, getting kids ready in all their winter gear (and all the mommas said amen). I really don’t like it. But I live in Iowa, so I have to suck it up and deal with it every year.
But sometimes it’s hard to suck it up. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always felt a little “blah” in the winter. I’ve always had a little harder time being upbeat and joyful during this cold dark season. And I know a lot of people can relate. Sometimes this is referred to as “winter blues,” or, if it’s serious enough, Seasonal Affective Disorder or the less severe Subsyndromal Seasonal Affective Disorder.
But the yearly seasonal calendar isn’t the only place I’ve struggled with winter blues. I’ve also experienced the cold bleakness of winter in my spiritual life. And those times can make it just as hard to maintain a joyful heart.
Whether you’re struggling with the physical season of winter or a spiritual winter period, there are ways to find joy in the midst of it. I’m not a mental or spiritual expert (so please, consult one if you think it’s more serious than winter “blahs”), but there are a few things that I have found to get me through my winter seasons. And today, seeing as how it’s the first day of winter, I’m going to share them with you all.
6 SIMPLE WAYS TO BEAT THE WINTER BLUES
First I’ll start with how to beat the literal winter blues. These are some of my favorite things to do to keep my body, mind, and soul healthy during the long winter months.
Exercise releases all kinds of wonderful things in the body that give you energy and make you feel good. (Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t. — Any Legally Blonde fans in the house??)
Related Post: My All-Time Favorite Workouts for Busy Moms
Maintain a proper diet
This is difficult to do during the holidays, I know! But I believe in the old adage, “you are what you eat,” and if you eat junk … well … you’re going to feel like junk.
Related Post: 7 Simple Healthy Lunch Ideas for Moms
This is hard when it gets bitterly cold, but it’s worth it. It’s so important during those winter months to get a little sunlight and ward off the dropping levels of vitamin D. Plus it’s a good way to cure cabin fever, get some fresh air, and enjoy nature.
I’ve already mentioned that I hate the cold, but it’s actually a legitimate scientific fact that being cold can bring on more depression-like symptoms. And staying warm has been shown to reduce the winter blues by half! So through the winter months, I try to stay as warm as possible with warm clothes, coats, and shoes, and I drink a lot of hot drinks and eat warm food.
Get out of the house
It’s so easy for me to hole up in the house as much as possible when it’s cold. I try to avoid being out in it as much as possible because I’m a giant weeny about the cold. But I’m also an extrovert, so I can only handle so much isolation before I start to go crazy. So I force myself to get out and do something social and fun (work doesn’t count), and I always come home energized and uplifted.
Embrace the cozy
Whereas all the above tactics involve combatting the things I don’t like about winter, this last part of my strategy involves embracing what I do enjoy. Putting on comfy clothes, making a cup of coffee or chai tea, and curling up with a good book. Ahhhh, it doesn’t get much better than that. So when I’m fighting off some “winter blues,” that’s one of the activities I turn to.
HOW TO THRIVE DURING SPIRITUAL WINTER SEASONS
This struggle to stay positive and joyful in the winter months mirrors occasional struggles I’ve had over the years through spiritual winter seasons. I’m not talking about major tragedies or devastating losses, but rather those bleak seasons when you just feel a little spiritually “blah.”
I’ve had my fair share of these seasons over the years, but as I’ve aged and grown, both in life experience and my relationship with the Lord, I’ve learned a few ways to survive and thrive through them.
Stay in the Word
A spiritual winter season is the worst time to become complacent about daily time in the Word. The times when I feel the least passion, when I feel the furthest from God, or when I am the most confused are the times when I need to lean into God’s Word the most. Severing my connection to the heart and will of God will only make me feel further from God and prolong the cold winter months.
Keep a journal
I’ve never been able to maintain a super consistent journaling habit, but my journals have gotten me through some of my toughest times, spiritual or otherwise. It’s my place to lay it all out there and sort through some of my thoughts and emotions. And it’s awesome to look back after I’ve made it through to the other side and remember what God did for me and in me.
Pour my heart out to God
When I was a teenager, a mentor encouraged me to look at David in the Psalms. He was a “man after God’s own heart,” but he was never afraid or shy about laying his heart bare before the Lord. He was honest about his feelings and struggles. There’s no point in trying to put on a facade for Him – He already knows what we’re feeling. So when I am feeling lost or confused or just plain stuck, I pour out my heart to Him and rest in the knowledge that He knows and cares.
Seek Christian fellowship
Winter seasons are not the time to surround yourself with worldly influences. These are the times that you want to gird yourself with the body of believers. With close godly friends and people who will speak life and truth into your spirit. And especially with those who will pray for you and hold you up until you can stand on your own. At least, that’s what I’ve done, and it’s made all the difference.
Look for ways to help others
Sometimes when we feel down or empty, the very best thing we can do is look for ways to lift up or fill someone else. It forces us to look beyond ourselves and our own problems, and it just plain feels good to help others.
Whether they’re physical or spiritual, winter seasons are hard. And they can sometimes feel like they’ll never end, that the world will be cold and dark forever. But if we’re patient, the day comes when we suddenly see signs of new life. And then more and more, spring unfolds before our eyes until we’re basking in the sunlight and green vistas of a brand new season once again.
But until that day comes, there are ways to beat the “winter blues.” As much as I dislike winter (either kind), and I really really do, these tactics that I’ve shared today help me not only survive the harsh season, but thrive in it. I hope that you find them helpful as you journey through your own winter seasons.
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