Winter can be hard on stay-at-home and work-from -home moms. At least it is for me.
I tend so lose my sense of self-worth as we get used to winter without Christmas and home without our daughter, Hannah. But I think I’ve finally figured out how to beat the winter blues.
How to Beat the Winter Blues
I actually enjoy the first two weeks of January. I use the time to relax after Christmas, get the house back to normal, and settle into a daily rhythm. My days feel very intentional and productive. But by the middle of the month, winter blues symptoms set in.
Sit With Your Emotions
Right after Hannah left to go back home, I started making over her room. The bedroom makeover was challenging.
There was the night I cried after rearranging her room. Then came the overwhelming job of getting cat urine odor out of carpet, and having to wash cat hair and flea dirt out of the mattress cover on top that. And while I was making her bed, I spilled hot chocolate all over the the mattress. At that point, I gave up and called it a day.
After trying to dismiss my feelings, I eventually gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling. It’s okay to miss my daughter.
Face the Hard Stuff
I thought I was reorganizing Hannah’s bedroom to suit our empty nest. But with time, I realized I was rushing the process as a way to skip over the grief of missing her.
As Fr. Richard Rohr puts it, there are three boxes: order, disorder and reorder. Reorder is the goal. He goes on to say there isn’t a nonstop flight from order to reorder. We have to go through disorder.
I say the same thing, but through the lens of organizing. We order our life into calendars, systems, roles, jobs, routines, relationships, politics, religion and so on, so we can accommodate ‘as is.’ But, ‘as is’ usually comes with baggage, busyness, dysfunction, heartache, hurt…the clutter of life. So we ignore it, shove it down, and try to move on. Because ‘as is’ is familiar.
In other words disorder, or in our case the winter blues and whatever lies beneath it, serves a purpose. It gets us from order to reorder.
Fun Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
When I was at my lowest, I decided to write down everything that was good about winter so far.
- Waiting to set goals. A few years ago, I decided to do my goal planning in February. Delaying this task take a lot of pressure of of performing during a time when you’re just not up to it.
- Finding joy in a creative outlet. For me it was cooking, but anything that makes you feel creative will work. If you’re looking for ideas, try MasterClass or CreativeLive to learn a new skill or pursue your passion.
- Settling into a daily routine reminded me just how much joy I get from keeping house and caring for my people. You can start slow with a simple morning routine for winter.
- Moving my body. Walking my dog was the highlight of my day. But, any movement you enjoy will work. If you can do it outside, even better.
- Connecting with friends. Being with friends gives up a sense of belonging and community that makes us feel a little less lonely. Even a phone call can brighten your day.
- Getting some light. It’s understood that lack of light is what causes the winter blues. At some point, I noticed the days were getting longer which really lifted my spirits. Until that happens, the lack of light in winter can take a toll on our mental health. I highly recommend getting a light therapy lamp. I finally got one and it’s been so helpful in beating the winter blues.
Focusing on the positive surprised me. It was very therapeutic and gave me hope that maybe winter could be fun after all.
Make Room for Hope
Turns out, winter’s endless days were like the empty space left behind when I chopped down a dead tree last Fall. In both cases, the emptiness disrupted my soul, uprooted insecurities, and called me to let go.
Letting go makes room for hope, growth, and change.
Once I beat the winter blues, there was a lightness in my spirit. The truth is, it was there the whole time. I just had to find it.