"A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories:” and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation." - Jonathan Swift, "A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Brightening things up when the winter blues come along

I was really inspired by a video that Joe Holmes (Plus2Joe on YouTube) posted the other day about SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and the way that blue feelings seem to seep in along with the mists and rains of winter, for no apparent reason. Here in England, it's now getting completely dark by about 4:30pm, and personally I find that the less light I get exposed to, the less I get out of the house in the sun, the less warmth in my bones, the less energy I feel and the easier I get sad (or SAD).

So, as Joe suggested, I thought I'd share some things that help me. This is sort of also a reminder to myself to keep doing these things, because sometimes I think all I really want to do is curl up under my down comforter to keep away the cold and the dark, but actually I end up feeling better if I resist that urge and do something else. Not that curling up and getting cozy isn't a great option on a cold winter night. It's just good to remember that it's one of many great options. And, personally, I find that if I stay in too many days in a row, I get cabin fever. So, here's my solutions to the winter sads. Please share yours in the comments! I'm always looking for more fun things to cheer things up.

1. Staying warm. It's chilly! If my logic holds, then summer warmth is part of what makes summer so nice, so staying warm in winter should help. One of my favorite ways to keep warm is drinking hot spiced beverages, which have the added benefit of being yummy.

2. Going outside. Even though it's cold. Even though it might rain. I have to keep reminding myself of this. Because fresh air really does feel good to breathe.

3. Eating right. I don't know about you, but I feel 100% better all around when I eat fresh, healthy food. And things like whole grains and protein-rich foods give you more energy, which I find is always in shorter supply during the winter. Eating healthy can also go along with cooking for yourself, which is really fun and a great study/work break.

4. Eating delicious. This is not mutually exclusive with number 3, and they're both important. Delicious for me can be anything from a rich homebaked cake to a super juicy pear (they're in season and deeeeliiiciouuuss!). For me, eating something really tasty or giving into a craving for chocolate can turn my day around.

5. Being creative. Working on and completing a creative project is one of the best feelings I know of, so if you're anything like me, then be sure to fill your winter with crafts and projects and artsy stuff. It can be baking bread or sketching or knitting a scarf or participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is this month - I'm not doing it this year, but I'm really hoping to next year; google it if you don't know what it is, cause it's pretty cool). Whatever makes you feel productive and absorbs your attention to clear your brain of whatever's puzzling or worrying you at the moment.

6. Keeping fit. SO important. Not because I think everyone should be atheletic gods and goddesses, but because it makes you feel better and gives you more energy. So far this winter I've been pretty good about doing some regular stretching and keeping supple, but I'm going to work on getting some more aerobic exercise to add some endorphins to the mix.

7. Watching feel-good movies. I especially like re-watching favorite movies and old classics. And I LOVE going the movies - any time of year, really, but winter's just as good a time as any.

8. Reading feel-good books. Right now I'm reading a lot of books for school (like 2 a week), so this doesn't really apply, but I'm sure it does for some of you.

9. Taking a hot shower. Can work wonders. Imagine you're in a spa, even if you're not. It's a nice feeling.

10. Letting your skin breathe. This might sound silly, but in winter, if you live in a cold place, you tend to wear lots of layers of clothes, and your skin might not see the light of day for days. I think it's especially important when it's cold to take care of your skin, give it cream and warm water and let it breathe for a minute after you step out of the shower before you muffle yourself up again.

11. Talking to people. You know that introvert/extrovert thing, when introverts get energy from being alone, and extroverts get energy from being with people? I don't know if it's true, but I find I need a mix of both. Sometimes I just need to get some energy reflected back from other people in order to reboot my own system.

12. Playing with cuddly animals. Sadly, I have no cuddly animals available to me at the moment, but if you do, go play with them! I find that a little encounter with a neighbor's cat on the way to school or a moment petting a dog who runs up to sniff at you before its owner calls it back, can make my day a little brighter.

13. Planning it out. Make a schedule of fun things to do so that you can look forward to them, whether it's deciding in advance what movie to watch when you get home from school/work or making a date with a friend to go out. This also avoids the problem of just keeping on working or wasting all your free time trying to decide what to do for fun.

14. Making yourself pretty. I find I always seem to make more of an effort with my outfits when I'm feeling sick or tired, partly because it makes it less noticeable, but then I also start to notice it less, and I end up feeling better. And then getting home and changing into your cozy pyjamas feels all the more delicious.

15. Listening to happy music. Sometimes when I'm tired I lean toward calm, soothing music, but sometimes the best thing is a really upbeat song that just makes you want to dance. Make that listening to happy music and dancing to it. I most especially recommend "You Make My Dreams" from the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack.

16. Laughing. You wouldn't think I'd forgot to do this, but I mean laughing hard, uncontrollably, whether in a giggling fit with your friends or while watching a funny movie or a stand-up comedy show.

OK that's all I can think of. Is it this cold and dark where you are? And what do you do to cheer yourself up?


  1. Yes. Read "Eat Pray Love" and eat chocolate chips cookie dough. Fills me all up with love for the cold, dark world :)

  2. Also, I just went back to this to see if you had responded to my comment, and then I noticed you'd linked to a video so I watched that, and then I watched ALL OF JOB HUNTERS.

    <3 <3 <3

    1. Oh...dear....I'm sorry to have been the instrument of your downfall to watching TV. But also happy to have got you hooked on Job Hunters because it's AWESOME.