Healthy Tips for Dealing with the Doldrums

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Wintertime in the Pacific Northwest includes numerous wintery gray days. It’s so easy to drip down into feeling “Blah!” Clearly, we wouldn’t feel up if we didn’t feel down – but that awareness doesn’t ease the discomfort of the doldrums. So, what does help?

For me, it’s taking some positive action – even when it’s the least appealing thing to do. I’ve noticed it shifts my mood and energy quicker than anything. Here are some ideas of how to handle uncomfortable emotional states:

  • Start the day by eating some protein: leftover salmon, eggs, poultry, etc. (For some Fresh Ideas tips, see What’s for breakfast?)
  • If time allows, cook a pot of soup with lots of veggies. (See Impromptu Autumn Veggie Soup for inspiration.)
  • Get outside, breathe fresh air and get your blood circulating. A gentle hour-long walk will do wonders for your mood.
  • Do a 30-minute exercise/movement DVD. Chi Gong with Lee Holden is gentle yet thorough, and Winsor Pilates is good for a bit more of a challenge.
  • Connect with someone who loves and appreciates you, just the way you are. Let them know you’re down, and ask for support.
  • Read a 5-minute inspirational message from a website or book you love. You might try
  • It helps to remind yourself that the only thing in life we can rely upon is change. When we’re down, this realization can be comforting. It won’t be cold, wet and grey forever.
  • How about counting your blessings? Make a list of all that you are grateful for. Take a moment to truly appreciate all that is going well and perhaps even turn your lips up to a smile, even if it doesn’t feel genuine at the time. Research shows that smiling is a powerful act  – it can actually change our physiological state. Try it!
  • If you are clearly not physically hungry, yet the impulse to turn to food strikes, when you are clearly not physically hungry, try to postpone the urge to nibble by negotiating with yourself. Rather than saying “Don’t eat that cookie, chocolate, or leftover mac and cheese”  distract yourself with a project or chore. More often than not, the urge will pass. (See the The Hunger-Fullness Scale for tips about sorting out your hunger.)
  • Be proactive! Remove foods that have less nutritional value and pull you into overeating. If you really want ice cream, go out for a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s. That’s a better setup than trying to resist the ice cream in the freezer that is regularly calling to you. Remember, it takes more energy to resist what is close by on a regular basis. Make a conscious decision when to have a treat – and then immerse your Self in the pleasure of it!

I have noticed that my mood stays down or drops even lower when I respond to impulse eating. It can be so appealing in the moment, but years of practice have shown that the end result is self-sabotaging. I feel so much better when I steer clear of impulse eating.

Start the new year learning new ways of caring for yourself. It takes ongoing support and believing it is possible… It doesn’t happen “magically” – but with a clear intention and consistent practice you can succeed. If you want to increase your chances for success, give us a call and we’ll let you know about upcoming groups and programs.