Beat the Winter Blues: Our Top 10 Mole-Person Tips
February has long been my least favourite month. It’s freezing cold, everything’s icy, it’s been winter for months, and with Valentine’s Day over the next thing to look forward to is Easter, and I never know when that comes around until it’s here.
I don’t mind telling you that I can get a bit glum and anxious this time of year. Everything’s dead and spring seems so far away.
And I work in a bunker underground and never see the sun.
So how do we all stay cheerful down here underground?
I’ll tell you! Here are our top ten mole-person tips for getting through winter!
1. Vitamin D3
As certified Mole People, we here in the bunker know a thing or two about how important vitamin D is to a good mood and a healthy body. Take it from me personally: you will notice a difference.
Back in the day our ancestors in these dark months resorted to cod liver oil. Cod liver is apparently a great source of vitamin D – as is chicken skin, egg yolks, fortified milk and cereal. If you’re like me and you don’t eat any of those things, you likely have at least a mild vitamin D deficiency at this time of year.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include muscle aches and pains, sluggishness, and hair loss. But taking a vitamin D supplement – especially Vitamin D3 – can help immensely. We all take vitamin D here in the bunker because, guaranteed, we do not get enough from the sun in wintertime down here. (Note that Vitmain D3 is more effective than D2, but is not vegan friendly as it comes from purely animal sources. D2 is vegan.)
I know. I know! Exercise sucks. But it’s great for your whole deal.
Exercise keeps your blood moving and improves circulation, so you won’t freeze your toes off quite so quickly out there in the ice and snow. It also improves energy levels and will help you get out of bed in the morning when it’s still dark out and the last thing you want is to leave your nice, warm blanket cocoon for the chilly world outside. It will make you feel good about yourself too – and it won’t even take as long as waiting to see results. Before any visible changes occur, your body will begin to change, you’ll notice it becomes easier to move, and the endorphins will put you in a better mood. You’ll sleep better, feel better, and de-stress. Exercise, cardio in particular, helps flush stress hormones from your body by satisfying the fight-or-flight responses our body has to stressful events. So if you’re feeling run down and anxious, going for a run could be the best thing for you.
Take some time to find what works for you.
Look we all ate a lot over the winter holidays and I know I definitely gained some weight. And as much as I want to look good in a dress this summer, I also want to feel good right now. So I’ve been trying to eat a little better.
You might be tempted to go on a diet – but that’s probably not a great idea. Fad diets – like keto, paleo, cabbage soup, boiled egg – help you lose weight short-term, but long-term they’ve been proven ineffective by multiple studies. If you’re looking to feel better, possibly even lose or gain some weight, the best approach is to change your regular habits, permanently.
I’m clearly not a dietician or a nutritionist. But there is one available for consultations at your local grocery store! And I promise you they know more than the 20, 000 bloggers out there pushing carb-free breads and keto fat bombs on you.
And if your eating presents a bigger problem than simple habit, if you find yourself binging or unable to control yourself, you may need a little extra help. For example…
For some people what we commonly call the “winter blues” is actually a serious condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Yes. People frequently get SAD in the wintertime.
If you feel depressed, sluggish, and generally listless every year, you might be suffering from something more than just the winter blahs. It’s time to get yourself to a professional who can really help you through – in this case, you may need a psychiatrist, who is able to prescribe medications that can help you. Your doctor (or the walk-in clinic doctor) will be able to help you get the proper care.
Therapy isn’t for “crazies” – it’s for everyone. Even therapists seek counselling. Take it from someone who’s in therapy: it helps.
I am just a blog post. I can’t help you like a professional can.
5. Sunshine, real and otherwise
I’m a human heliotrope, I would bask in or near sunbeams all day like a cat. But between becoming a full-time professional mole person, and an apartment that faces north, I don’t get a whole lot of sunbeams in my life right now.
Never fear: artificial sunlight is here!
I have a full spectrum sun lamp on my desk and you’d better believe I turn that thing on at least once a day. The bright light mimics the sun and helps me feel energized and cheerful.
On the weekends I take advantage of the one spot in the apartment that gets decent light and curl up with a book as close to the sunshine as possible. Even indirect light can have a positive effect.
6. Dress for the Weather - or not?
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” – my friend’s Newfoundlander father.
Okay, so there might be bad weather, but it’s a whole lot easier to bear when you dress for it.
We’re right next to Truro! Get yourself some Stanfields long underwear and enjoy the great outdoors, even in -20ºC weather. Put some snow boots on, wrap a scarf around that beautiful face, and hit the slopes at Wentworth, or take a (careful) hike through Victoria Park! (Look I went last year when it was 90% ice and survived but maybe gauge that one for yourself.) Enjoying nature has been proven time and time again to lift mood – even in wintertime.
And if you can afford the heating bill, turning up the heat and putting on your favourite shorts or sundress at home can make you feel like summer’s just around the corner. Heck, just putting on flower-print something, grabbing yourself a glass of lemonade, and listening to the sounds of seagulls on one of those ambient soundscapes all over YouTube could make you feel like you’ve got a little, tiny taste of vacation.
7. Live Entertainment
I’m a hermit. I like being at home. So sometimes I don’t notice when I need to get out and do something.
Sometimes the winter blues can be alleviated simply by getting out into the world and doing something. So instead of going to the cinema, or playing video games, get out to a pub for some live music, or see the Hubtown Theatre Society’s latest show at the Marigold Centre. Reconnect with the physical world. We spend a lot of time on screens anymore, and it can make it feel like life is just one big spreadsheet.
So go out, grab a drink, or a snack, and enjoy the experience of another human being trying their darndest to entertain you. Story and performance are at the heart of what makes us human, they are traditions dating back thousands of years, and which have an uncanny ability to evolve from nothing time and time again. We have a primal need to entertain each other, and to experience live entertainment. Feed the need, and support a local artist while you’re at it.
8. Time With Friends
…and while you’re at it take a friend or 5 with you.
While we’re busy being hermits in our warm, comfy homes, we have friends out there doing the same. So get together – at a pub, at the library, a cafe, at Jamie’s house, at yours, or even online for a video chat. The winter can make you sluggish and sad. But friends can always give you a pick me up.
9. Lean in to Hobbies
On a similar note, get creative. The thing that makes winter so utterly dull is the feeling of stagnation. Everything’s dead and frozen and it’s been that way for months. We’re all sitting around waiting for spring to return and kick the world into a period of growth and creation. So kick start it yourself. Anything creative will do. For me lately it has been watercolours. For you it might be knitting, or cooking, or sketching, or writing.
The world might be telling you all things die and winter will last forever, but you folded a little paper crane out of a flat sheet of paper. That’s a tangible accomplishment. It can sit in your hand and you can pull its tail to make its wings flap. You did that. You made that. Spring will come back, the earth will wake up, and nature will make things again.
You got this.
10. Build a Fort and Hide
If all else fails, and you’re still feeling kind of blech, give in. Retreat. Enjoy a little self-indulgent moping. But do it in style.
A few blankets and pillows, maybe some boxes and tape, a warm cup of tea, a favourite childhood movie, and some fairy lights if you have them, and you’ve got yourself a cozy evening in. Embrace winter, embrace the bleakness of it, and build your own little hygge house to get through the last few weeks of it.
It’s way nicer to wrap up in blankets and become a human burrito in February than it is in August, so just enjoy it.
Winter won’t last forever. Spring is almost here!
Keep an eye out for our spring and summer hours, coming soon.
And if you’re looking for some winter exercise, entertainment, and something to get you out of the house, registration is now open for the Atlantic Laser Tag League! Seasons tarts in March!