It is easy to become depressed at this time of year, especially if you are snowed in and face
losing pay or holiday entitlement if you cannot get to work. So how do you keep smiling when all around you is dark, gloomy
If everything outside is awful, then make everything inside lovely. One way of keeping yourself cheerful
is to emphasise the cosiness of your home. Plenty of tea, excellent DVDs and books, dimmed lighting that does not seem ‘stark’
and warm winter foods for dinner will all help. Why should you be eating salads when it is close to zero outside and dark?
Historically there was nothing to do and no light to do it in at this time of year, so people spent a lot of time
sleeping. In medieval England, for example, it was common to sleep for up to sixteen hours a day in winter, divided in two
with a period of activity in between. While you cannot do this without being fired, you can make the most of the darkness
and go to bed much earlier than you would in lighter months. This has benefits for your mental and psychological health, as
well as cutting down on electricity bills. People who sleep more (eight hours a night rather than the five or six averaged
by many) are more productive as well as healthier.
Many people book their holidays at this time of year.
Often still paying off the debts of Christmas, people will spend hours poring through brochures and deciding where to take
the family this year. If it is possible actually to take a holiday in these months then do, but if not, planning your holiday
while it is still cold and grey gives you a tremendous boost. It reminds you that things will get better and brighter. Even
if you feel you cannot justify a holiday this year, then weekends away and short breaks will still give you something to look
forward to. Perhaps try to do something different this year – a retreat, a writing course or a cycling holiday, for
With all the misery outside, it is important to keep yourself as happy as possible. This is a perfect
time of year for laughing. Watch more comedy than drama on television, go and see funny films and read plenty of humorous
books. This is the time to re-read those old Garfield books and the children’s stories you used to love when you were
Part of this is meeting up with friends as much as possible. This is difficult if you have a family of
course, but you should still try to make time simply to sit down and chat and laugh with your friends. Doing this regularly
will give you real strength when you are getting up the next morning in the dark!
Finally, the gym. It is difficult
to go when it is dark outside; it seems so much like hard work. But the endorphins you will gain from the exercise will keep
you cheerful for hours afterwards. There will also be the benefit of knowing you are burning off some of those luscious winter
foods you have been enjoying.
It is not always easy to stay cheerful at this time of year. It can be very difficult
for some people. But it is important, so that your family, work colleagues and friends can still rely on you during these
months. And - the more you try, the sooner it will be light and warm again!
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