5 Ways to Boost Your Mood as a Parent During the Winter Months - MetroFamily Magazine
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5 Ways to Boost Your Mood as a Parent During the Winter Months

by Michael Dickerson

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Let’s face it: The shorter days and colder months can be challenging for parents. Raising kids is already overwhelming year round, but when you add holiday stress (and grief), flu season and unpredictable weather into the mix, it becomes especially frustrating.

Then, there’s Seasonal Affective Disorder (fittingly, SAD). According to the American Psychological Association, it’s “more than winter blues.” They characterize SAD as “a type of depression that lasts for a season, typically the winter months, and goes away for the rest of the year.” During this time, parents can experience feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, a loss of interest in pleasurable activities, less desire to interact with their children, weight gain or weight loss and excessive sleeping or insomnia. If you feel like you’re on the brink of losing your temper (or bursting into tears), you’re not alone — but don’t give up just yet. Try these five mood-boosting exercises instead:

  1. Focus on your hobbies. What were you passionate about before you had kids? Which activity did you engage in just for the joy of it?  A great way to enhance your mood is to find small ways to pick a beloved hobby back up — whether it’s reading, arts and crafts, playing video games, drawing or gardening. It’s a great way to transform negative energy into positive energy and improve your mood.
  2. Plan a vacation. Summer doesn’t have a monopoly on vacations — and in reality, winter is probably when you need one the most. If you’re able, plan family trip, a couple’s retreat, a solo self-care vacation or a fun day trip. Even if you can’t travel until spring or summer, simply planning a getaway can build excitement and give you something fun to look forward to. Before long, the winter months will melt away, and you’ll hit the road to a happier mindset.
  3. Eat healthy. During wintertime, people usually dive headfirst into their favorite comfort foods. That’s OK from time to time, but after a while, it can leave you feeling bloated and bogged down. Whether we like it or not, food has the power to increase our mood … or decrease it. It’s important to understand which foods give you energy, and which ones don’t — and you don’t have to overhaul your whole diet to make more nutritious choices!
  4. Strengthen your bonds. Much of winter is spent indoors because of the weather. This is a great time to do things at home. For your family, that might mean a game night, watching a movie or cooking together. Regardless of what you choose, deepening your relationships with your spouse, partner, and/or kids is one effective way to supercharge those oxytocin hormones we all love!
  5. Move your body. If I could only recommend one practice for preventing and combatting depression, it would be moving your body. That doesn’t mean you have go to the gym either! For you, it might mean doing some jumping jacks, pushups, yoga, taking a Zumba class, going on a walk or hike, hopping on your peloton or something else. No matter the activity, exercising 3 to 4 times a week will improve both your mood and overall wellbeing.

Feeling even more overwhelmed after all that? Take it slow! Pick one of the practices listed above and gradually implement it into your daily routine, then go from there. Just know that it’ll be worth the effort. Because when you’re in a better mood, you’re better prepared for any curveballs the winter season may sling your way.

Editor’s note: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health or crisis, or you need support or resources to prevent a crisis, call or text 988, the Mental Health Lifeline, to be connected with licensed and certified health crisis specialists in Oklahoma. For more information, visit 988Oklahoma.com.

Michael Dickerson is the founder of Dickerson Consulting Group, a human resources consulting firm. Michael is a sought-after speaker, trainer and consultant on positive organizational culture. He specializes in strategies on work/life integration, mental health and well-being and positive psychology in organizations. Michael holds a Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology and is the creator and host of The Spillover Effect Podcast. Visit Michael’s website at www.dickersoncg.com.

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