In a rut?

It is that awful period in winter (mid-January through February) where the weather just sucks: it’s cold, dreary, gray, dark, etc. This can affect your mood and make you feel listless, or make you feel like you’re in a rut. Below are some ideas to help pull you out of your rut that have worked for me in the past.

The first and most important thing is to recognize that you’re in a rut! Once you’ve recognized it, you can start mapping out a way to improve your outlook. There is nothing that I like more than to be organized and create a path forward. Problems always seem easier once you’ve identified the problem and broken the solution up into smaller more manageable steps. It is simpler to take a small step than a giant leap.

I find the best way to pull me out of a rut is to look at how I am spending my time during the day. Am I spending my day doing the same thing over and over? Have I fallen into a repetitive loop? Often, that loop involves spinning my wheels with day to day activities. I’m more concerned about getting laundry done, cooking dinner, taking out the trash, washing dishes, and other boring household things which you have to do but they become your focus because they’re omnipresent. What little down time I have, I find myself just staring at my phone or watching TV. This repetitiveness always sneaks up on me in winter. Once I realize that I need a little variety in my life, I find myself getting excited about finding stuff to do outside of my routine. Just planning new things helps excite me, which then motivates me to actually do them.

Get crafty. It’s satisfying creating something from nothing and it gives you a real sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t even have to be some Pinterest worthy craft. Try a paint by numbers or cross-stitch. Those are two very simple crafts that let you see an image come to life. They’re also really relaxing because they’re meditative. When I first got back into cross-stitching, I bought a kit that had everything I needed in it. And it had the added bonus of making me laugh every time I looked at it.

Talk to your friends. You may be surprised to find that they’re feeling the same way as you. Together, you can lift each other up. It’s also refreshing to reach out to friends that you may not have talked to in awhile because life got in the way. Different voices means different perspectives.

Have your comfort things. For example, I know that the theme song of Murder, She Wrote makes me happy because I love that show. So, on really cold days, I’ll take time to light a fire, burn a nice candle, curl up on the couch and watch an episode or two. The second the theme song play, I feel warm inside because when I watch the show, I make a nice environment to enjoy it in. To me, that’s different than just watching random TV without a purpose or really not paying attention to it. Now, I don’t have time to do this during the week because I work full-time, but look forward to a little relaxation TV on the weekend.

The second you see sun, step outside. If you’re lucky and get to see sun AND it is warm, step outside and go for a walk, even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes! Lack of vitamin D can really affect your mood. I take a vitamin D supplement during the winter because I used to go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. The lack of sunlight really gets to me. I’m lucky now because I work from home and can take a break as needed and step outside. My old office didn’t have windows. If you’re in that boat, I feel your pain.

Work on your diet! Winter means comfort foods, but it’s not helpful. Fresh veggies are hard to come by, but you can get some great frozen veggies. Try to include vegetables at every meal. We all know I am a sugar addict, so I have to be cognizant to not give into sugar as much in the winter. I am also a firm believer in the benefits of cod liver oil. My husband is not feeling fish right now (or the past few years), so it’s an easy way to make sure I get my omegas. A good balance of omegas has been linked to more stable moods. (My mom also swears that we are so healthy because she gave us cod liver oil when we were younger. Anecdotally, I can say, cod liver keeps you healthy).

These are just some simple fixes to try if you find yourself languishing in winter. Try one or two to start with. Remember, small steps can ultimately lead to long distances.

*Being in a rut is different than experiencing depression. If you feel depressed, please reach out and find help.

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