10 Tips to Help Beat the Winter Blues

The holidays are over. I thought I would feel better by now? Winter is a tough season for many of us. Shorter days, less sunshine, gray skies for days, and cold weather can make you just feel “blah!” Add grief to the mix and it can feel unbearable some days. Here are 10 tips you can try to help bring some light to the season.

  1. Let the light in! Open the blinds, get a sunrise alarm clock, string up lights, or sit by the fireplace and feel the warmth.
  2. Get outside or keep moving. Go for a short walk, walk the dog, go to an outside mall, head to the gym, put on an exercise video on your T.V., try yoga, spend time in nature, ski, snowboard, dig out that old sled! Maybe your kiddos have an interactive video game that you can join in on.
  3. Take a winter vacation if you can. Money can be tight after someone dies. Another option are day trips! Look into an indoor water park, hotel pool, spa, concert, play, or movie.
  4. Love is a different kind of light you need in the winter. Surround yourself with people who support you and make your life easier. Need someone outside your circle to talk to? Talk with a therapist or look into a support group.
  5. Do something for yourself that makes YOU happy. If you enjoy reading, take a look at the Book of the Month Club. Are there any Netflix shows you have been meaning to binge? Watch funny YouTube videos that make you laugh. Journal your thoughts or draw away your worries. If you don’t know what to do with yourself, do something for someone else—volunteer somewhere that has meaning to you. If you are sitting here reading this asking yourself how you can be happy again after someone dies, you are not alone. Give yourself permission to have fun and you might just find yourself laughing again.
  6. Make something! Embrace your DIY projects or make a scrapbook of your loved one. Cook something or learn to cook your loved one’s favorite meal. Redecorate a room that has been hard to walk in since your loved one died (or just sit in the room if it brings you comfort!).
  7. Listen to music that boosts your mood. Create different playlists on Spotify or use Pandora.
  8. Get your vitamin D levels checked. Levels tend to decrease in winter from lack of sun.
  9. Be aware of what impacts your mood. H.A.L.T. is a great self-care tool that can be used to remind yourself and your body of what you need in the moment when things feel overwhelming. Next time you feel overwhelmed go through the acronyms. Hungry: Ask yourself when the last time you ate was and fuel your body. Anger: it’s not hard for feelings of anger and frustration to arise after someone dies. It is okay to be angry. Find healthy ways to let your anger out (e.g., hitting a punching bag, kickboxing, crying, talking it through with a friend). Lonely: ask yourself, are you lonely? Reach out to a trusted family member or friend and connect. If you feel like no one will understand what you are going through, join a support group like SandCastles, or talk to a therapist. Tired: you may be thinking, when am I not tired? Ask yourself, how many hours of sleep you are really getting. If you can, try to aim for 8 hours a night. With work, kids, or school that isn’t always possible. Try taking a cat nap on your lunch break or skipping that extra load of laundry at night. The laundry and dishes are not going anywhere—let them sit for an extra day.
  10. Now, add the letter G to the end of the H.A.L.T. acronym. Grief: remind yourself you are grieving and doing the best you can. Cut yourself some slack. In a world that keeps turning and changing, don’t be against yourself—be kind.

See something that is missing? Keep adding to your list. Remember, what works for one person may not work for everyone. If you have other family members that struggle with the winter months, come up with a list of activities and things you can try together. They don’t have to be elaborate—keep it simple!

Jaclyn DeSmet

Clinical Coordinator, SandCastles Grief Support Program

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