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A wild wind whistles at the window while my weather app shows a frosty forecast.  Temps have plunged into the single digits, and snow days are on the horizon.  Sickness sweeps through our community, and the sun takes a long winter nap.  As the snow piles on, sometimes our spirits fall under the weight of the long, grey days.  Psychology Today estimates 10 million Americans are affected by seasonal depression during the winter months, often characterized by lethargy and a significant drop in energy, mood and motivation.

But winter doesn’t have to be sad!  We can fight back against the winter blues and prevent seasonal depression.  Just recognizing the problem and taking steps goes a long way. Here are some ideas:

  1. Get some green. Buy a few new green plants for your house to simulate the outdoors and freshen the air. Plants increase the oxygen in the air and give you something to care for and enjoy.
  2. Open your blinds every morning, right away. If the sun does come out, take a lesson from your feline friends and enjoy a few minutes to bask in it. Use that time to pray and thank God. Both the sunlight and the gratitude will lift your spirits.
  3. Clean house. No, you don’t feel like doing it, but taking some time to claim your space and make it feel fresh goes a long way to lifting your mood and motivation. Buy something new, maybe a wall hanging or a nice candle and promise yourself to clean up before you use it.
  4. Disinfect. While you are cleaning, use some good-smelling disinfectants and go to town on your frequently-used appliances, major surfaces and doorknobs. If you have small children, they will be happy to help you wipe down surfaces with a Clorox wipe. They can get hard-to-reach place. You’ll cut down on your germs, and everyone will feel better in a clean home.
  5. Rearrange. Consider rearranging your furniture or painting a room in a brighter color to find more personal satisfaction in your environment.
  6. Take your vitamins. You can take your typical drug-store brand vitamins, but also choose lots of citrus fruits when you go shopping. Grapefruit, naval oranges, cuties, lemons, and limes are all in season and will keep you feeling your best.
  7. Rest up. If you do get sick, take the time to sleep and let your body do its natural healing process. Do not push through, as that will most likely result in relapse. Rest, read and heal so you can be back at your best as quickly as possible.
  8. Make a book list. Choose to use the season as a time to cuddle in and stimulate your brain. Giving yourself a goal in book-reading will keep you moving along.
  9. Have a dance party. We all need exercise, but it’s hard to stay motivated when you are cooped up indoors. The best way to exercise in winter is to get your body moving to music. Music is God’s gift to us, and even the most rhythmically-challenged person can move his or her body to the beat. It’s more fun to do with others, but even alone can make you smile. Dancing with the body God has given you is its own kind of worship.
  10. Plan events! Don’t wait for others to do it: schedule get-togethers. Everyone will be glad you did, including you, and all that positive interaction will get your joy going again.
  11. Tell a friend. Just sharing your blues with one person will lighten the load. There’s no shame in asking for help; in fact, it brings people closer together when we are willing to be vulnerable with each other.
  12. Dust off your journal. Expressive writing has been proven to improve the emotional health of individuals who engage daily. Sometimes we don’t realize the weight of the emotions we are carrying, and a journal is a safe place to pour out some of our deepest thoughts and prayers. It’s also a tangible way to cast our cares upon Christ, knowing He cares for us.

As believers, we know that God gives us all the seasons for our good and His glory.  He has good purposes for winter. We spend more time with our family; we take more time to slow down, pray, and read His Word.  By taking some of these simple steps, we can reclaim winter as a special season of worship.