Beating the Wintertime Blues
Winter can start to feel long by this point in the season, especially for those of us living in cold climates! The holidays are long gone, early mornings and routines are back in full swing, and our bodies are likely digesting more fat and sugar than normal. The sun seems rarely to shine, at least here in Michigan; and exercise is hard to come by with snowy, blistery days. Let’s just face it; winter can be a tough season leaving many people in a slump, depressed, and finding that motivation takes effort. This can especially be the case when parenting children with autism, ADHD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Below are a few helpful tools for beating the wintertime blues – and feeling good while doing it.
- Take your multivitamins: Include a little extra vitamin C and D while you’re at it! Fresh fruits and sunshine can be hard to come by in the winter, but our bodies need those essential vitamins to function properly. Vitamin C will help build the immune system to fight all the miserable viruses that seem to love winter. It also helps keep our energy levels up. Vitamin D is what we get through our daily dose of sunshine, but when the sun isn’t shining, our bodies are lacking! There is a lot of research discussing the importance of vitamin D in preventing things like multiple sclerosis, but it’s also good for boosting the mood and building a healthy immune system.
- Indulge in a warm bath: Baths are a great way to unwind and relax, but there has also been evidence that warm baths help to remove toxins from our body. Sit back, relax, and work out those toxins! Another benefit to a bath is that muscles relax. This is a great time to stretch out or message some tight muscles.
- Exercise: Exercising just a few minutes a day can make a difference. If the weather isn’t good, find a way to workout in your home or at a gym. Set up an obstacle course in the house, or let loose and dance to some music. The kids will love to join in and can benefit from these simple exercises. This can help burn some of the holiday calories, and boost your mood and energy at the same time.
- Allow yourself to cry: Everybody needs a good cry now and then. By allowing yourself to do this will relieve a lot of stress and there is some great research out there supporting this. This suggestion isn’t just for women either; it’s good for everybody to let out a good cry!
- Eat Healthy: I know when I’m feeling down and am lacking motivation, I have a tendency to reach for easy food. The problem is that by eating cookies, muffins, ice cream, or chips, our body is not getting the nutrients that we need. This also has a tendency to cause the depression and moodiness to get worse due to sugar crashes, weight gain, and other unhealthy results of eating so poorly, resulting in a vicious cycle. Eating proper foods can help our bodies lose unwanted weight, increase our energy, and help build a strong immune system.
- Take time for yourself: It is so easy to get caught up in the business of life, always planning, preparing, cleaning, organizing, caring for children or others, or any other of the many things life throws your way. It is so important to have a group of friends to laugh with, cry with, or share experiences with. Think of the last time you’ve given yourself this time to fellowship. This needs to happen on a regular basis. If you reenergize more by alone time, then sit in a coffee shop, get your nails done, or hit some golf balls. Think about what gives you that renewal and go do it – regularly!
These of course are just a few things you can do to maintain a healthy and stress reduced life. Make sure you do these things and take care of you! It’s the best thing you can do for you and your family! If your child is receiving treatment for autism, help for ADHD, or support for other disorders, having a healthy parent is even more valuable. Consider these things a gift you can give to yourself and by reducing your stress, you are giving your family one of the best gifts ever!