How to Beat the Midwinter Blues

31 Jan

Winter Vortex getting you down?

 

Seriously, anybody else been feeling super-depressed lately?

 

I don’t know if it’s just the weather or the fact that it’s impossible to leave the house without literally risking frostbite. Or maybe it’s the sheer amount of mittens and hats and boots and coats required to do anything, even dumb stuff like take out the trash. Or perhaps it’s the fact that it’s so cold that the dog won’t go to the bathroom outside, instead favoring the use of the basement, but I have been seriously down in the dumps lately. Like crying a lot and incredibly down on myself and on and on and on.

 

And, while it’s fun to wallow in self-loathing, I thought that a week of that nonsense was enough. So, in the interest of snapping out of it and possibly helping others along the way (cause I can’t be alone in this, I just know it), I’ve compiled a list of tried and true methods to beat the Midwinter Blues.

Here goes:

  • Get out of your house. “Oh, easy for her to say,” you think. I know this is counter-intuitive and a lot of effort, especially if you have kids, but really. If the weather shows any sign of the possibility of sunshine, get out of the house. Bundle yourself and your progeny up in as many layers as it takes to stay warm and leave. the. house. Be safe, of course, but seriously. Nothing does the spirit better than a trip to the museum  or the library or the McDonald’s play place. Heck, even the post office feels like a vacation when you’ve been holed up for what seems like centuries. Just take advantage of the balmy 8 degree temperature and get the heck out of your homey prison.

 

  • Rearrange your furniture. Sometimes just mixing it up the angle of the couch or the placement of the china cabinet can make a huge difference in your mood. When nothing about the outdoors is changing for months on end, it’s good to force some change on your environment. Moving Toy Everest to a new location can make you feel like a new woman or man or whatever.

 

  • Get some cardio. Unless you’re super hardcore like my granola coworkers and actually purchase cleat-like snowshoe attachments for your running shoes, you’re probably not gonna be outside much for a workout. Don’t worry! YouTube has a fantastic selection of very mediocre Zumba videos that will both get your heart pumping and make your children laugh maniacally as you shake your bon-bon in the (newly rearranged) living room.

 

  • Get in the kitchen. This is the perfect time to try something new. Pinterest abounds with all kinds of crazy recipes just begging to be loosely followed. Seize the day and get cooking! If you’re holed up for weeks on end you might as well perfect your culinary skillz. (And yes, I do mean skillz.)

 

  • Even better, get your husband in the kitchen! We had an incredibly rare occurrence in which both of us had two days off in a row. I hear they’re called “weekends”, but it was on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Whatever. The hubz made…wait for it…homemade breakfast sausage, bagels, carnitas, pizza dough, and chili. And I made tortillas because I’m not as cool as he is. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, marrying a man that can cook is the best life decision I ever made…along with the decision to stop using those home hair highlighting kits with the weird caps that you have to rip your hair through. That was a good call, too.

 

  • Do some more cardio to offset the cooking thing. Or not. Puffy coats hide a multitude of sins…and a multitude of bagels. Just sayin’…

 

  • Read a good book. I’m probably going to finish it tonight or tomorrow, but I am so completely obsessed with The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I’m going to write a full post about this one, but seriously. Read it.  Also, I started Anna Karenina and, because I can’t ever read just one or two things at a time, I’m also reading The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander which is fantastic. What are your latest bookish obsessions? Any favorite winter reads? Any put a pep in your step reads?

 

  • Revitalize yourself with the talent of teens. This might be harder to do for some of you, but I bet it’s feasible if you do a little searching. I had the privilege of judging the annual Poetry Slam at the library last night. Guys. Teenagers are so talented and passionate and, I promise, if you’re around them and take the time to really listen to their thoughts and ideas, you’ll be so much the better for it. Find an open mic night in your area or volunteer with teens in some capacity. Teens are so life-giving and yet so overlooked…well worth your time, I promise.

 

  • Listen when people tell you you’re wonderful. I don’t know about you, but when I’m depressed I focus inward. My tunnel vision makes it impossible to see any good about myself, any shred of beauty in me. I can’t maintain any positive energy at all. And that’s where the listening comes in. So many times people pour goodness into me and I just don’t receive it. My depression wants me to believe there isn’t any goodness present and that nobody loves me when that simply isn’t true. If I focus and unstop my ears, I allow myself to see the beauty all around…I allow myself to breathe, to receive the kindness and love of others and to love myself.

    Incidentally, I made this the other day and Vin sent me a picture of it while I was crying all the way to work. Nothing like a gentle reminder from yourself…via your infinitely intelligent husband.

 

I tried paying more attention recently and realized that my husband tells me I’m pretty, like all the time. I think he might have a crush on me or something. And my kids? The other night Maggie told me, “Mama, I love you the way God made you.” If I hadn’t forcibly made myself chill out and be present instead of mentally berating myself, I’d have missed that.

 

  • Listen to your breast pump. If any of you have had the privilege of being hooked up to a breast pump on a regular basis, you may, like me, have realized that these machines can talk. Laugh if you want, but there’s a certain cadence to a breast pump that just sounds like words. Maybe it’s just my particular model or my particular neurosis, but I swear that thing talks to me. If you’re not lucky enough to have a breast pump on hand, please locate the nearest lactating mother and see if she’ll let you listen to her pump. She won’t think it’s weird at all!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Listening to the breast pump is always a good idea, as it generally has valid advice. Last night, mine simply said, “Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go…” on and on and on. And the breast pump is right. Long, unrelenting winter makes it hard to stay cheery, but there’s so much good surrounding me, fighting to be seen through the numbing fog of blaaaaah and self critique and doubt and comparison. And now is as good a time as any to let it all go.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, the breast pump’s advice morphed from, “Let it go, let it go, let it go,” to “Move to Paris, move to Paris, move to Paris, move to Paris,” which I think is a decent suggestion. I mean, the breast pump has never steered me wrong before… So you can just forward my mail to Versailles. But in the meantime, while I’m packing and whatnot, I think I’m better equipped to handle all this Polar Vortex nonsense. Subzero temperature and frostbite ain’t got nothin’ on me, thankyouverymuch.
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7 Responses to “How to Beat the Midwinter Blues”

  1. Aunt Jeanie January 31, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Just so you know – the Indians equipment truck leaves today for SPRING training – my own personal sign of good things to come.

  2. Mama January 31, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    I really do hope you get that art framed. I struggle with a positive outlook at this time of year – I refer to it as a down time in my biorhythm. You gave great advice. You could also add: do acts of random kindness or ANY acts of kindness. Take those darling babies to visit a retirement home. If we are down, you KNOW the residents are. Doing good deeds always makes one more cheerful, well, it always makes me cheerful. Love you and do indeed share your pain!

    • ohblessyourheart February 1, 2014 at 8:05 am #

      Good point! Random acts of kindness do make everything better! Serving others always takes the focus off of yourself, so that’s definitely a good point! Love you, too!

  3. stepheniejones January 31, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    I love you Mary Susan. I just want you to know that! Your post made me feel the need to tell you. 🙂

    • ohblessyourheart February 1, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      Well, I love you, too! Can you believe we’ve been friends since, like 5th grade?? Amazing when you think about it, right?

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