Has wintertime been leaving you feeling a little on the low side? As creative business owners, it’s not uncommon for us to never leave the house on cold winter days. Mix that up with lots of alone time with our laptops and a sunset that hits before 5pm and you have the perfect storm for S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder).
Today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite tools and tactics that creative business owners can use to combat the winter blues and keep themselves (and their businesses) shining bright.
Spend some time in front of a Happy Light.
One of the main causes of S.A.D. is a lack of sunshine. Sitting a few feet from a full-spectrum light (like this one) helps mimic natural outdoor light and can change our brain chemistry. These lamps are made just for treatment of S.A.D. and can help reduce symptoms so you start feeling better, faster. The Mayo Clinic calls this phototherapy and considers it a first-line treatment for fall-onset S.A.D. This means that it’s an easy and safe option to try before opting for anti-depressant meds.
Go for a morning walk.
Getting outside and exposing your eyes to the blue spectrum light that shines in the early hours of the day is one of the best ways to reset your internal clock. Not only can this have a positive effect on any sleep issues you might be dealing with during winter, but it also helps manage when your stress hormones are released. In turn, this helps give you that boost of energy early in the day and helps you feel sleepy when it’s time for bed.
What if you wake up before the sun even comes out? Schedule in a 20-min break shortly after sunrise for you to stretch your legs and get some sunlight.
Co-working dates with other creatives.
While it can be a pain in the ass to leave the house in the middle of winter, meeting up with other creatives is a great way to both be productive and feel more connected during this time of hibernation. Plan a work date at a local coffee shop or co-working space and use the Pomodoro Technique together so you can both get a ton of work done and take breaks at the same time to chat or brainstorm together.
Skype dates with your business bestie.
Live somewhere remote and don’t have any creative entrepreneur friends nearby to have a co-working date with? Plan a virtual all-day work session with your business bestie where you chat via Skype in the morning to lay out your goals for the day, have a face-to-face date over lunch to check in with each other, and then another check-in after the work day is over to have a cocktail together and celebrate your wins for the day.
Get hygge with it (aka: cozy).
Hygge is a Danish word that loosely translates to a feeling of coziness. Imagine a sitting in front of a roaring fire, wearing a well-loved sweater, drinking some hot chocolate, and cuddling up under a fuzzy blanket… You get the idea. Pretty damn cozy. One of my favorite things to do in the winter is channel this idea of hygge into my daily life on a regular basis with lots of comforting bowls of soup, loads of quilts and blankets, and as many candles or other sources of fire as I can get my hands on. Want to up the hygge in your life right now? Ask yourself what you’d love to add to your office or other in-home workspace to make it more inviting and cozy.
Work out - sweat!
We release some seriously happy hormones when we move our bodies and get sweaty. From a Chinese medicine perspective, depression is caused by your liver’s qi (energy) not moving through the body in a free and easy way. Working out creates a strong circulation of blood and energy in the body. This helps vigorously move that stagnant liver qi and can help relieve feelings of sadness and depression.
Supplement sunshine with Vitamin D.
In the summer months we usually get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from getting outside in our shorts and t-shirts. But once winter rolls around there are a few barriers in our way.
- It’s freaking cold out so we’re showing a lot less skin. We need at least 15 minutes of direct sun exposure on our bare skin (that means sunscreen-free skin) to get a decent Vitamin D exposure. I can guarantee that when winter comes to Minnesota, the only part of me that gets any direct exposure to the sun is my nose!
- The angle of the sun is less direct in the winter. I’m not going to get super technical here, but in order to get the best Vitamin D exposure we need the sun to be at a more direct angle to where we live. People who live closer to the equator are at a better angle to get the sun exposure they need. But people who live further north are at a disadvantage.
- The days are shorter. Simply put, in the winter the sun rises later and sets sooner, leaving us with less hours in the day to get outside and get the sun exposure we need.
The recommended amount of Vitamin D is 400 IUs (international units), but that’s basically what we need to survive - not thrive. Most practitioners promote getting your Vitamin D levels checked and supplementing if needed. Personally, I take 1,000 IUs daily in the winter and only sporadically in the summer.
Play in the snow!
Noticing a theme here? The more you can incorporate getting some daylight into your retinas the better you’re going to feel. Getting outside and playing in the snow over your lunch break not only gets you up and moving (boosting your happy hormones) but it also exposes you to some extra bright light. Ever notice how much you need sunglasses when you’re driving on a sunny winter day? That’s because the snow reflects the blue light from the sky - the same blue light we need more of when we’re feeling down and out in the cold, dark, winter months.
Move your desk near a window.
I can’t stress enough how much natural light can make a significant positive effect on seasonal affective disorder. If you work using a laptop, see if you can move to a different spot that gets more natural light. Bonus points if you’ve got houseplants nearby too!
Focus on self-care.
When we commit to treating our bodies, minds, and spirits better, we’re able to manage everyday stress and seasonal changes with more ease and flow. Have you been feeling like you want to incorporate more self-care into your daily life but aren’t able to find the time? How you can hold yourself more accountable to that intention? Maybe try scheduling it in your calendar, putting your money where your mouth is by enrolling in a class, or signing up for a free self-care challenge with other people in the same boat as you.
If joining a free challenge sounds right for you, I’m hosting a #28daysofcreativecare challenge in February to help creatives like you recommit to your mind/body/spirit. You’ll be joining other create business owners through easy and manageable daily Instagram prompts through all 28-days next month. You can sign up for the challenge and get the self-care prompt calendar right here.
**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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