A woman holding her hand over her heart, surrounded by plants and flowers

6 Simple Ways to Avoid the Black Hole of Winter Blahs

Winter doldrums, blahs, blues. No matter what you call it, we are painful-knees-deep in the worst of it.

Some people find that heat/hot days make their rheumatoid arthritis (RA) worse, but not me. I feel the cold here in the Midwest deep in my bones and joints in a way that makes my entire body seize up. Each day it seems to get more difficult to drag myself out of my amazing heated-mattress-pad-topped bed. The prime incentive only seems to be the call of nature and a steaming mug of deliciousness.

The black hole of winter blahs

The days are long and the warm rays of sun are short. Lack of sunshine can affect more than your vitamin D levels. The cold can work its way into your heart, and the days can start to look pretty bleak.

As someone who is always dancing the line of anxiety and depression, winter always has a way of painfully pushing me right over the edge of the line. In managing this year after year, I’ve learned a few things, the most important of which is that being proactive is always better than being reactive.

My 6 simple solutions to keep from spiraling

The prescription for fighting these winter doldrums doesn’t have to be complex, difficult, or expensive. But these 'simple solutions' do require you to notice the problem and take clear steps to work towards a solution.

Phone a friend

Just like the classic game show says, it always pays to phone a friend. Hearing the voice, or better yet, seeing the face of someone who really cares can do a world of good for both of you.

Invest in a sunlamp

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing. And there are a couple of ways to fight back against it, one of which is using a sunlamp.1

There are many on the market for lots of different price points. But no matter which you choose, sometimes just feeling that warmth (faux or not) on your skin can feel so good.

Puzzles and games

Besides being epic for stimulating your brain, working on puzzles and games is a great way to pass the time indoors, requires little energy, and brings with its completion a great feeling of accomplishment.

Don’t have much extra cash to buy hundreds of puzzles? There are even subscription services that can keep you busy for months with minimum financial commitment. Not to mention, you can get the whole family involved. A good board game beats screen time every time.

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Pick up a new hobby

Discovering a new hobby, particularly ones like yarn crafts, paint-by-numbers, model building, or 3D printing can be a great way to get those endorphins singing.

Sure, these require a minimum amount of manual dexterity, but doing just a little a day can increase hand strength, mobility, and endurance. Kind of like a fun version of physical therapy. Win-win!

Bring the outside in

Just like puzzles and games, I really don’t think having living plants inside gets nearly the credit it deserves for helping us get through the cold months (even for others like me who live with a perpetual black thumb). Taking care of someone or something besides myself helps me to get outside my own head (if that makes sense) to focus on something else besides my own aches and pains. It feeds my soul to see something grow and to know I had a hand in it.

Discover a new favorite hot beverage

Nothing takes the edge off a chilly day like a hot beverage. In the winter, I drink different hot drinks all day long. I love all the flavors and kinds. With everything from sweet to salty and tea or coffee, no hot beverage is safe while I’m around. I find the lightest mug I own, wrap my aching hands around it, and just let the heat warm me from the inside out.

Are these ideas novel, new, or hacks? Nah. Maybe, for you, it is just enough to know that if you suffer from an annoying case of the winter blahs, then you aren’t alone.

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