I have been deep in the winter blues the last few weeks. Where motivation is hard, comparison is easy, loneliness is overwhelming, and escaping feels necessary. Where the sun is rising as you leave for work and setting as you make your way home. Where you start craving the weekends and the sunshine and the warmth even more than usual. Where you want to so badly feel connected, yet it is so easy to isolate.
I am there folks.
Winter has always been hard for me. If I look back at some of the more difficult moments in my life and the lowest of lows, they have typically taken place during the winter months.
Hence my recent..ish love for skiing..
When we decided to move to park city I was STOKED for the winter, knowing that I was going to have one of my favorite activities in my backyard. Especially the one that helps keep me occupied during the winter blues.
But for some reason I have been feeling a sense of “stuckness” lately. I didn’t exactly prepare myself for a (very) mild winter in a ski town.
So between the mild winter, competing priorities around my 9-5 and my side biz, getting sick, and a recent injury I have been feeling those winter blues a little harder this time of year.
And what I have learned is that I am not alone in these feelings. That other people have mentioned struggling with those winter blues too. Because of that, I have decided to reflect on all of the ways I have been dealing with it all in hopes that it might help some of you as well.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. It is OKAY to be feeling this way. Say that to yourself. And then let yourself feel.
It is easy for me to feel shame or ungrateful for having these low feelings.
I “should” be feeling grateful after all of the opportunities I have been given. I “shouldn’t” be sad on the weekends or anxious for work. I “shouldn’t” feel stuck in a town that I have come to adore. I shouldn’t be wanting to sleep all.of.the.time.
But at the same time, these feelings exist. And it has been a process learning how to not only get curious about them but honor them. To actually feel them rather than trying to numb out or shove them away. That it doesn’t make me bad or weird or wrong for having these feelings. That it's all just information and I have the choice to do something about it... rather than beat myself up and shove them away.
Something I have continuously learned is that if we do not give ALL of our feelings the center stage when they arise, they are going to come back around until they are felt (and most likely in completely unrelated ways). I can promise you this.
If something makes you angry, like you can feel it coursing through your bones.. Scream into a pillow. Like full on scream until you feel that anger leave your body. And then reflect on why you felt that way. Seriously.. It works and you are able to move on.
What would it feel like to give all of your feelings the center stage?
Evaluate your use of social media and beware of the comparison trap.
The winter blues makes it SO easy to find yourself in a constant trap of comparison or FOMO or not good enoughness.. Especiallyyyyy with the accessibility of social media.
A few thoughts:
99% of the time people are posting their best on social media.
Those pretty photos and insta stories do not tell the whole truth, you never know the depth or entirety of someones story. Comparing all of your life and feelings to one photo is not fair.
When you scroll through your feed, how are you left feeling? Triggered? Not good enough? Less than? Or energized, motivated, and inspired?
I have recently learned that if there is someone who triggers me in any negative way on social media to unfollow them. I do my very best to surround my real life self with folks who uplift me, why wouldn’t I do that in my social media accounts as well? I promise you, no one is paying that much attention, if they are not contributing to your happiness, find that unfollow button.
How often do you find yourself on your phone scrolling? How does that make you feel? What if you replaced that habit with something that would positively benefit you?
What if instead of spending 30 minutes a night scrolling through instagram you read a book or starting your blog, or finally got around to the painting you have been putting off. Start noticing your habits around social media. And if it doesn’t make you feel good, what can you do instead to make yourself feel better?
Also notice if you are using it as validation. Likes are NOT a reflection of your worth.
(I am working on all of these things too, friends)
Get clear on what makes you happy and what doesn’t.
The winter blues gives you a great opportunity to evaluate the things in your life that make you happy and the things that don’t. Start taking notice. Make a list of those things that light you up and find ways to incorporate those things in your day to day. For me, it is yoga and taking time to prepare foods that make me feel good, healthy, and alert.
Take some time to notice your patterns. When do you feel sad or lonely? What habits do you engage in when you start feeling that way?
When you do find yourself in that low place ask this question, “what do I need right now?” and honor that. Remember the things that make you happy, that energize you. What would it feel like to try one of those things in those moments of sadness?
Prioritize yourself and your needs. I know this can be hard.. But it is necessary and it is OKAY.
When I feel low, it is sooo easy for me to isolate, hide away, and separate myself from people. But what I have come to realize is real, authentic connection is so so so important to my overall level of happiness. I have made it a goal to honor those feelings of connection when I start to feel lonely.
How can you create more connection in your life? Maybe a coffee date, or a phone call. Maybe it’s reconnecting with old friends and going out of your way to make a new friend. Whatever it is, honor your cravings for connection.
Try something new and/or get clear on your goals.
This is a GREAT time for expanding our hobbies. What have you always wanted to try but have been putting off? I LOVE to play outside but with it getting dark so early on the weekdays it makes honoring that difficult. So rather than going home and watching netflix, I have been working on my yoga practice. Eric has picked up baking.
Maybe you can take a trip to a new place every weekend, or pick up knitting, or try out that group fitness class with a friend, or get super clear on new goals. Whatever it is, make sure it lights you up.
Motivation can be difficult during these months. By switching things up and finding activities that make you excited can really, really help.
Finally, remember that you are not alone and to be gentle with yourself through this process.
The winter blues are so, so common and that can be hard to remember when you are feeling alone. But as you work through these things try to practice gentleness with yourself. The last thing you need is your inner critic telling you how much you suck over and over and over. See what practicing the above does for your overall level of happiness. Just start paying attention to all of the feelings and see what kind of decisions you can make for yourself when certain ones arise. And remember, all of your feelings are good, valid, and OKAY.