Battling the Winter Blues – Lets go on a Trip

Blue sky, sunshine, a gentle breeze blowing through the warm tropical air, birds singing to the dawn of the early morning, the scent of the ocean nearby; it’s all sounding pretty nice right now. Even the bug bites sound pretty good.

The long, dark winters of the Northwest tend to make some people crazy…like me. I don’t have much room to talk or complain though, as I am escaping soon to travel south. By Sunday evening, I will be landing in El Salvador, welcomed by 70 degrees and Central America’s hospitality. By day, I will be sweating in the hot sun of 90 degrees, surrounded by beautiful mountains and lush green tropical foliage. Though I won’t have time for a beach, I certainly will enjoy warmth.

I am pretty pathetic. I have been home from Peru less than a month and already anxious to find a warm, happy place. I feel bad my family can’t come with me this time, but bring on the sunshine, and lets get the sunglasses out.  Where is my sunscreen?

Seasonal depression is common in my area. I have been a victim of it myself, and for years, I fought the battle of the blues that comes with cold days, gray skies, endless rain and darkness. My husband has been victim to the wife who suffers, and he has dealt with my crazy ideas to break the cycle of cabin fever. The ideas that I have brought to him over the years to “cure’ me, involved remodeling the entire house, moving, building a sun room,  to taking vacations to the tropics.  Steve just kind of tolerated my crazy whims and appeased me by occasionally agreeing to the tropical vacations when we could afford it. We never did move, remodel or build that sun room.

I am grateful that I have been relatively healed from my winter blues for the most part. Travel has been a blessing and I can tolerate the Northwest again because I frequently get to leave it all behind.

The Northwest is slowly creeping out of it though, and hints of spring are hiding behind the corner. Each morning comes a little earlier with the light, and no longer is it dark by quitting time.  The sky is often grey, but we have had days with sunshine.

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Still, I love the Northwest. It’s always green here, and we have mountains, oceans, trees, a mild climate, and coffee shops everywhere.DSC_0931

The summers are amazing too and there is no place in the world like Seattle or Portland on a warm July day.

I still do have days where I feel the boredom of winter, especially when the rain seems to never cease, but I try not to let it conquer my spirit.

Here are a few ways I have waged war on my winter blues (other than my travel).

There is no scientific proof that this will cure anyone else of  winter issues, but these things have helped me.

  1. Skiing – Steve and I started skiing again about five years ago. It’s expensive, but we try to go once or twice, or three a times a year.
  2. Exercise – As much as I hate going to the gym, this gives me a lift.
  3. Walks- Sometimes Steve and I will take a walk at night, and the fresh air seems to help, plus it makes our dogs so happy.
  4. Vacations- We frequently try to get away sometime during the winter.
  5. Hobbies- I love photography, and rain or shine, there is always something beautiful to photograph. I love music too. Often playing piano helps me. Anything creative has been helpful.
  6. Getting outside as much as possible.
  7. Shopping – Steve doesn’t much care for this idea, but often a trip downtown takes a boring day and makes it fun. Even window shopping in Portland on a rainy day can be fun.
  8. Candles – We burn candles every night at the table and I have white Christmas lights up still so at least the darkness has a romantic feel.
  9. Setting goals. It’s good for me to establish a few things I want to accomplish during the winter.
  10. Friends – Just spending time with friends often has kept me stay sane. I especially love our cooking nights with Karen and Wingman.

My biggest cure for the blues, is finding something that I can look forward to. Whether it be a vacation, or a special event, a Compassion missions trip, there is something fun about having a plan or an event to look forward to. Unfortunately, these things cost money, so making a plan far in advance is key. Steve and I save a year out for most of our big trips. 2014 is already in the works.

Anyone else deal with winter blues? How do you cope with it?

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2 Comments on “Battling the Winter Blues – Lets go on a Trip

  1. Hello Patricia, my southern California raising wore off for good this past year and I was really struggling with the lack of sunshine–no energy and a bad mood. Just a couple of months ago, I bought Phillips goblue light therapy box. I got it from Costco.com. It’s tiny enough to travel with. Anyway, the blue light is supposed to mimic the summer blue sky and I’m so happy to say using it about 20 minutes every morning has made a tremendous and noticeable difference (and I am very pregnant right now too which is saying a lot for the result of a major increase in my energy! woot!) I’ll be using my blue light for a long time coming, plus always having a fun, creative project to work on during January especially helps me too!

  2. I’ve asked that God not move me to the Northwest for this very reason. I grew up in the Northern Midwest and the long, overcast winter months definitely helped us appreciate the sunshine.

    In other news, love on my little girl in El Sal, ok? 🙂

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