The grind of winter can wear even the most cheerful person down. The cold has us reaching for comfort foods that actually leave us feeling worse, and it seems like whatever time of day we step outside, it’s dark and feels too late to do anything.
“We look at winter in a way that is different than the other seasons,” says Dr. Freida Birnbaum, a New Jersey-based psychologist.
“We tend to go into ourselves, we tend to eat foods that really do affect our moods — carbs — and socializing less as well. None of these have to happen.”
The dip in the body’s level of the feel-good hormone serotonin happens as naturally and inevitably as fall. But that doesn’t mean your mood has to follow. “The problem here is people feel they have to have some kind of fix, medication, therapy — not the case,” says Birnbaum.
Given all that, it may have been hard to see that Snowstorm Juno’s mildness was a great chance to jolt yourself out of your winter rut. Here’s how not to let the cold or another excuse keep you from enjoying your next not-so-snowy snow day.
Do a gut check:Would you have stayed inside if you’d gotten an unexpected day off in, say, May? Probably not, so why not do what you would’ve done then? “It’s a wonderful chance to really trust your judgement and know that what doesn’t work is giving yourself a message that to be inside, to isolate yourself is good for you,” says Birnbaum.
Bad weather isan opportunity:It’s hard to think of the world beyond the routines we set ourselves, but do it anyway. Find out what happens outside your office on a Tuesday. Take a different exercise class. Change the path of your walk to the train — maybe you’ll find a new favorite spot, and the exploration will get you used to seeing novelty in a place you don’t expect.
Get over the cold:Try this trick: Before going outside, close your eyes and imagine yourself on a beach in Florida. “If you think of yourself being in a warmer climate, that helps to warm you up,” says Birnbaum. “What seems to be the wrong thing to do (going out) really feels much better in the long run.”
Snow is therapeutic:Your body will love the additional sunlight reflecting off the snow, and after months of early darkness and gray skies it’s refreshing to see the world suddenly gilded and shining. “Snow brightens up the environment around you and can really be beautiful — if you can look at it that way,” says Birnbaum.