Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Roll Call: Who’s Got the Winter Blues?

From recent comments here and in the forums, it seems like there are more than a few of us who are struggling through this winter. I’ve experienced pretty bad seasonal affective disorder in the past, but I’m actually doing ok this year, save for some sleep deprivation and challenge getting my postpartum thyroid levels under control (they’re starting to level off, though, finally). Fortunately, we’ve had a fair share of sunny days, I make sure to get fresh air and exercise every day (even if it’s just a brisk walk to the store and back), and I haven’t been going overboard with my usual go-to comforts (booze, chocolate, bread and cheese. Mmmmm…). I also try to schedule at least one social activity during the week with friends that does not include my children. (It’s so easy when you’re a mom of young children to count play dates or kids’ birthday parties or school pick-up, where you technically are interacting with other adults, as your social life, and, while those interactions certainly have meaning, they aren’t the same as kid-free hang-outs.) And Drew and I are making an effort to have a date at least once every three weeks (tomorrow night we’re going to see M. Ward and Jenny Lewis!).

There are other changes I’ve made this winter to help stave off seasonal depression. I’m making sure to get out of the apartment during my designated work hours — those three mornings a week when Joanie’s with a sitter and Jackson’s in school. Usually, I try to maximize my limited work time by simply staying home, which also allows me to do laundry and prep meals and stuff like that. But when I’m not getting out as much in the evenings because it’s dark and cold, it’s super important I change my scenery earlier in the day, so I’ve been setting up shop at neighborhood cafes, and I think that’s helping to keep the winter blues at bay.

A few other things that are helping: I tried something new (spin class; didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it and I’m going to try it again tomorrow morning); I’m making time for reading, an activity I always enjoyed but haven’t made much time for in recent years; I colored my hair (it’s not a huge change or anything but I like it and it perked me up); I made a New Year’s resolution (and have mostly stuck with it) to talk on the phone every week to at least one long distance friend (this one is a challenge because I don’t love talking on the phone and I’m always so tired at the end of the day and would rather veg out, but I’m finding that the effort is worth it).

Anyway, those are a few ways I’m surviving the winter and feeling pretty good despite the shorter, darker, colder days. How are you all doing? Do you have steps you take to help ward off the winter doldrums? Are they helping?

26 comments… add one
  • Addie Pray February 3, 2016, 2:23 pm

    Eating better and exercising are the only things that seem to pick me up. And when I am feeling down, it’s usually because I’ve resorted to binge eating and avoiding exercise. I tend to be all or nothing when it comes to eating and exercising. I wish I could approach both with moderation. In December I did Crossfit every day for 3 weeks and felt SO MUCH BETTER. Then I started back at work and I just don’t have time for that. But I do have time for a quick work out after the baby goes to bed, so I really have no excuse. Lately, though, after baby goes to bed is when I binge eat and watch TV. I’m in a BAD place, guys. I NEED to stop that cycle. Helpppp.
    Do you have days where you are just really, really stupid? Today is one of those days for me. I made 3 mistakes in a row that I’m going to tell you about so you feel better about yourselves. My first mistake was made last night, actually, when I pushed the “call forward” button so all incoming work calls would ring on my cell. The error was I put my mom’s cell phone number in instead of my own. My second mistake was failing to turn off “call forward” this morning. My third mistake was not realizing my first two mistakes until close to noon today. My poor mom kept getting calls this morning, urgent calls, from a potential client, the president of a company who wants me to do a pitch for their work. Because of prior experiences with a crazy stalker, I was convinced that the guy was a crazy stalker who somehow got my contact list. So I called him back and left a voice message asking why he was calling my mom and asking him to call me at work, which he did (again) but it rang to my mom (again) and …. And to make a long story short, it took me awhile to figure it all out. Why? BECAUSE I AM STUPID! Or “stupit” as I thought the word was for I don’t even know how long, all of elementary school? If I get the work, I’ll let you know. Just don’t hold your breadth. STUPID.

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    • honeybeenicki February 3, 2016, 2:28 pm

      Its ok AP, I’m having one of those WEEKS. I just can’t seem to get my shit together. I don’t get it. Most days I’m pretty sure that I’m an intelligent person, but this week has made me question that (as well as my sanity).

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    • jlyfsh February 3, 2016, 2:35 pm

      Oh AP! Tomorrow is a new day! 🙂

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    • Addie Pray February 3, 2016, 2:37 pm

      I meant “breath.” Love, Stupit

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      • Diablo February 3, 2016, 3:29 pm

        I was actually holding my breadth. Which is only marginally more socially acceptable than holding my length. [rim shot] Thanks, folks, i’ll be here all week!

  • RedRoverRedRover February 3, 2016, 2:40 pm

    I don’t have winter doldrums because there’s no winter here! I love winter actually and it’s sad and scary that Toronto isn’t having one. Ottawa had to cancel a bunch of Winterlude events because it wasn’t cold enough. And Ottawa is friggin cold. I was at my parents’ house in the town where I grew up last weekend, and they just have a sad little layer of frozen water on top of the grass. I won’t even call it snow, it’s like that leftover snow you see in April. I’ve never in my life seen the beginning of February come and there’s no snow on the ground. 🙁

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    • honeybeenicki February 3, 2016, 3:11 pm

      We have had barely anything. We were supposed to get a “storm” yesterday that would bring between 3 and 15 inches and we got a piddly 1″ (maybe) and then they claimed another 3 or so overnight into today… it snowed like crazy for about an hour but barely a dusting. I’m perfectly ok with it though. I hate snow and cold and winter and should really consider moving.

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  • LadyInPurpleNotRed February 3, 2016, 2:47 pm

    I get the winter blues because I live in FL and am used to New England winters and so FL winters depress me. I’m also in a slump and just not happy with myself. I’m hoping that starting my new job next week means new routine and I can work healthier habits in. I’m like AP and I’m an all or nothing kind of woman. I have lots of really fun things to look forward to, but I just feel blah about everything.

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  • Anonymousse February 3, 2016, 2:52 pm

    Even though there is basically 3-4 feet of snow outside my house, and it’s really hard to get the kids outside, I am not seasonally affected but I am very tired, and tired of everyone getting sick at my house! Including me. We’ve had croup, a stomach bug and now another cold. And my wonderful and delightful son is throwing serious tantrums before naps and a few hours after bedtime at night. He used to lead me to his crib by my hand when he was tired. Last night he was full blown screaming and crying for two hours between 11-1 am. Miraculously, my two month old was deep asleep and slept for a solid six hours!

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  • Diablo February 3, 2016, 3:35 pm

    Up here in western Canada, seasonal affective disorder means that you get suddenly and inexplicably happy for the few weeks of actual summer. M. Ward is cool. I saw him a few years back when She and Him were at their height. Jenny Lewis is on my wish list – her new album is a pop masterpiece. The opening tune has a lyric that i would love to have in my quest for truly positive songs – “There’s little bit of magic/Everybody has it/There’s little bit of sand/Left in the hourglass.” In other wish list news, I just got my tickets for Peter Gabriel this summer, and he has been on my list for a long time. M and I decided that price was no object, especially since now we will never get a chance to see Bowie. Ya gotta seize the day, friends.

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    • RedRoverRedRover February 3, 2016, 3:51 pm

      I tried to get tickets for that Peter Gabriel/Sting concert. I was on ticketmaster as soon as they went onsale. Lo and behold, zero tickets available! The only place you could get them was on resell (ie. scalping) sites, which were all American and in USD. I briefly considered paying $350 CAD for two seats in the nosebleeds, but I just couldn’t do it. Regular price on ticketmaster, $120 CAD for the pair. I was planning on paying around $400 for two floor seats or good seats in the 100s, but those came out to $650 CAD with the scalping price, $50 “service charge”, and conversion to CAD. 🙁
      I did see Peter Gabriel about 3 years ago, and he was fantastic! His voice is still the exact same. 🙂 And of course his showmanship. I saw Bowie in 2003 and loved him.

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      • Diablo February 3, 2016, 4:44 pm

        Yeah, ours are still $360 CAD for the pair and not great seats, but… Peter Gabriel, and we haven’t seen him before. Saskatoon still doesn’t get all the big shows, especially because if they are doing one SK date, it’ll likely be Regina. (Very few people who don’t live here even realize how awesome Saskatoon is compared to nasty stanky ol’ Regina. Or care, i would imagine.) We’ll be going to Edmonton. Summer road trip to visit old friends, so actually a bonus in this case.

      • MissDre February 3, 2016, 6:09 pm

        Regina is stanky isn’t it lol. I’ve been a few times (city of my birth, but I did not grow up there). I hear Saskatoon is awesome, though.

      • Diablo February 4, 2016, 8:33 am

        Truly, it is fine and has its good points. But the rivalry is the stuff of legend, so it is my patriotic duty to despise Regina. When I lived there for a couple years for work, my friends all said “It’s not Regina if you stay inside your house.”

      • Diablo February 3, 2016, 4:46 pm

        PS – Sting? Whatever. Unlike Gabriel, his period of relevance was over a long time ago. My engagement will depend entirely on how many old hits he plays. Whereas everything Peter Gabriel does is gold.

      • RedRoverRedRover February 3, 2016, 6:44 pm

        I’m definitely a bigger fan of Peter Gabriel than Sting. I’ve never considered going to a Sting concert, but I’ve gone to Peter Gabriel. That being said, I was interested to see what they would do together. But it looks like I’m gonna miss it. 🙁 Maybe I can see Peter Gabriel again the next time he goes round.

  • Stonegypsy February 3, 2016, 4:03 pm

    I don’t really get ‘winter blues’ in the traditional sense (I actually start getting pretty bummed out if it’s sunny for too long), but I have a cold this week and that’s putting me in a bad mood. We did get a lot of snow on Monday and Tuesday, though, and that was pretty lovely.
    But my head feels like someone is slowly trying to crush in with a cinder block. So really I just want this week to be over.

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  • Ange February 3, 2016, 4:26 pm

    I have the ‘it’s summer but it’s rained the whole month’ blues. Seriously sick of it not being sunny and warm. Makes the dump we’re living in even less appealing. Plus my arthritis meds aren’t working so I can’t hit the gym. Although there’s one tint bright spot; I found a bunch of workouts geared towards sufferers on YouTube and I’m going to try one today, it’s better than doing absolutely nothing.

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  • Moneypenny February 3, 2016, 5:36 pm

    In the past I have gotten what I think could be the winter blues (although where I live, winters are pretty mild and it doesn’t snow). I think it had more to do with not seeing the sun and leaving work when it was already dark.
    I currently sit at a desk that is near windows, so I feel a lot better seeing the outside. Even if it’s gloomy out! I have been really happy to see rain, since it’s been so so dry (aka drought) for the last few years. When I get home though, it’s really hard for me to get motivated to do anything besides wear sweats and do nothing. I’ve been mixing up my exercise routine, though, since the beginning of the year, so I’m trying to focus on that!
    *Also* I’ve been popping Vitamin D gummies, which I’m hoping are helping too.

    That’s super cool, Wendy, that you’re going to see M. Ward and Jenny Lewis!! Awesome.
    I’m going to see Metric towards the end of February, I’m looking forward to it!!

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  • othy February 3, 2016, 5:46 pm

    I’ve been trying to spend more time working out outside. I had a nasty flu that lasted about 2.5 weeks that I’m finally over. And I’ve been spending so much time outside since I got around to feeling better. It also has helped that we’ve gotten storms every 2-3 days, which has helped keep our usual winter inversion at bay. Because of my asthma, I can’t workout outside if the air quality levels are yellow, so I’ve been quite happy to have many green days recently.
    Also, I’m going to Florida in 2 weeks (to run in the Disney Princess Half Marathon) so I’m looking forward to some warmer weather and some real sunlight!

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  • shakeourtree February 3, 2016, 6:12 pm

    I get SAD every single year without fail; a sun lamp is absolutely vital. I already live in a state with mild winters, so my only options are staying put or going southward. I just need that sunshine! On the upside, I started taking anti-anxiety meds again recently, and it has had the bonus effect of boosting my mood as well. I am feeling kind of listless, though, but I think that’s mostly from working long hours and feeling run down with a cold that will not subside.

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  • dinoceros February 3, 2016, 7:22 pm

    I’m not minding winter. I love snow, and I don’t mind the cold, so that’s not too bad. I also am taking 5,000 IU of Vitamin D a day, per my doctor, so I think that helps! I’d recommend Vitamin D testing to anyone who doesn’t know what their levels are. It can help a lot. I did find that since I was stuck inside more (compared to walking around a lot in summer), I felt like my legs were sad and I wasn’t sleeping as well. Now I go to the gym, and that helps.

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  • keyblade February 3, 2016, 8:57 pm

    I’m doing okay. Exercise, forced socialization, forced mediation, prepped out meals, and mercifully clear skies have kept me limber.

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    • keyblade February 3, 2016, 9:11 pm

      edit-forced meditation.
      Thankfully no forced mediation.

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  • Ron February 4, 2016, 10:35 am

    Yeah, things were good until the big snow, now feeling blahhed and lethargic.

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  • muchachaenlaventana February 4, 2016, 1:48 pm

    I have been really struggling, I think it is more depression vs. SAD but I do think the weather has a huge impact on it, I also get really terrible PMDD that insanely impacts my emotions and mental state in a really negative way and it is so much worse when I am already battling depression. When it was still nice out I was jogging a few times a week and felt so great, and that definitely took a nose dive when it started to get dark at 4. I always walk my dog but had been really skimping on length. The past few weeks I have been making myself take her on walks for at least 3 miles in the evenings, and it has seriously made a world of difference. I am finally starting to feel a bit better, and all of the unseasonable warm temps we have been having after our massive snowstorm have definitely helped. I am not at the low point I was maybe 2-3 weeks ago and am trying to keep myself motivated and doing things so I don’t slip back.

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