The Sol Compass

by Caitlin Hummer

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5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues


Hi everyone – welcome back!  I was looking for something in my OneNote app last week, and I found this post that I wrote last year and never published!  I actually really like the way it came out so while it’s not completely relevant (I’m not doing Whole30 this year, and our trip to Florida was over a year ago), I decided not to change it and just leave the text as it was.  It’s a good little reminder for myself too, since we’re right in the thick of those tired winter blues right now!

Today I want to share with you a few things that have helped me the past month combat those winter blues.

Take advantage of the slow season to focus on your health.  While I was in Florida, I was really starting to feel the effects of eating out for every meal and snacking unhealthily throughout the day.  There was no way I was going to pass up a beignet or a churro or a Mickey bar… I have never dieted a day in my life, but I was starting to feel the effects of all the bread products and sugar I had been having.  Towards the end of the trip I started thinking about going on Whole30.  Then I got a stomach bug and pretty much didn’t leave my bed for three days.  After sleeping more than I usually do in a month and always being tired, I finalized my decision to start Whole30.  My goal wasn’t to lose any weight or have a miraculous appearance change, but rather to force myself to make healthier habits.  They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, and my hope was that at the end of Whole30 I would reach for healthier breakfasts (over my usual bagel) and have a better knowledge of what foods would help me feel better and give me the energy to keep going throughout my very long days (I usually wake up before six and frequently come home after 11).  Researching a lot about food, what I could have, and experimenting with recipes also got me into a pretty good habit of meal prep and actually taking time to make my own breakfast, which was my ultimate goal.  During the first week I missed carbs so much.  Mentally I kept thinking I was hungry or needed a more “filling” part of a meal as I stared at chicken and vegetables on repeat.  I can definitely say that my Whole30 journey was a success in steering me away from the empty carbs and towards food with a nutritional value, and having a slower social season to focus on it was really helpful as well.

Drink more water.  This is one of those things that everyone sort of knows we should do but hardly anyone actually believes they do enough.  I always thought S’well bottles were the best way to help these.  Every morning I try to make myself drink a full bottle of water before I got up from my desk for the first time.  Unfortunately I tend to get up a lot, so sometimes it’s a challenge but it is pretty good motivation.  Especially while I’m downing that morning coffee it is extremely good to mix some water in.  Then wanting to get up to fill my water throughout the day is another decent excuse to keep drinking (and stretching the legs).

Read more.  While I was sick, I got that judgy message from Netflix asking if I was still binge watching New Girl.  I usually only watch one episode of anything at a time, so seeing that really struck a nerve with me.  I actually deleted my Netflix app on my iPad the next day because seeing that message just made me feel awful.  I started to keep two stacks of books on one of my nightstands.  One with nonfiction books on my list, and the other with fiction.  I’ve been trying to get in the habit of reading more at night because reading really does bring me so much joy (my mom used to joke that she would punish my sister and I with “no reading for fun”).  Unfortunately, it’s one of the first things I put to the back burner when my life gets busy and I always feel the empty hole it leaves when I stop.  Whatever genre you choose to indulge in, reading is amazing for your creativity and critical thinking.

Self care.  Face masks are one of those things that feel so indulgent and not a single bit guilty.  You get to relax and give yourself a quiet night in, and your face gets treated to some much needed care?  Win win.  Same with going to the gym.  When did you ever feel bad after going to the gym?  Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it sucks, but in the end it’s over and you get to eat pizza for dinner.

Schedule downtime.  I am always out and about on any given night of the week.  December was particularly busy, and between Christmas gatherings, movie releases, store opening parties, Taco Tuesdays, and my friends coming back to Massachusetts for the holidays, I felt like the only down time I had was spent on writing five blog posts per week!  Socializing is something that can seem so urgent and important, but I have always known that I need some time to myself.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that scheduling my nights alone is something I need to be better at.  My problem was always that I didn’t know in advance that I would have time alone, and so I would wind up wasting an entire evening.  Planning my time alone ahead of time (planning a meal or a book even) and not just allowing myself to waste the night away busying myself has been really important to my ‘me time’.  Michaela and I will very easily pop on a movie with our laptops or tablets in front of us, and then all of a sudden I’m answering emails and working on finding links for next week’s post.  One of the greatest things about blogging is I can do it any time, any place.  But it also makes it that much harder to turn it off and take myself off the clock.

What are your favorite ways to beat the winter blues?

xo, C