PPD or SADD? 5 Things You Can to Boost Your Winter Mood
I live in Seattle and it. is. dark. It’s amazing how you can go from feeling like a fully functional human at the beginning of fall to a lethargic (yet exceptionally on edge) hibernating bear, searching through garbage cans for remnants of something anything shiny enough to resemble the sun, by the time Springtime comes around. No? Just me? (Ok then… maybe that analogy went too far…but you get the point.)
The dark and cold of winter months can really take their toll on your physical and mental health. Especially as a woman. Especially as a new mom. Postpartum blues (mild sadness following the birth of a new baby) is so, so common among new moms as it is. And, winter months can worsen the symptoms of post-baby blues.*
But, there are small things we can do to ward off winter weariness. Here are 5 simple things you can do to boost your mood, and banish the baby blues:
Go outside. It may seem counter intuitive (especially because really? All that effort to bundle up a baby to walk to the car only to unbundle the baby to buckle them AND THEN bundle them again before getting out of the car) but yeah…really, it’s worth it. You need Vitamin D. And even if you can’t see the sun, it’s there, shining down on you. Sending you little rays of happiness. Just going out for a few minutes a day (even in the worst weather) can brighten your mood. Plus, it’s not just grumpy grown-ups who benefit; but grumpy babies and toddlers are often calmed by the elements, too.
Get a sun lamp. No really. When it’s just too cold, wet, or snowy to be outdoors, it’s the next best thing. I live in the Pacific Northwest, where it is dark and grey for much of the year. Sun lamps really do work. They’re cheap and easy to set up, too. Here’s the deal: our bodies need the sun. When there’s no sun, it’s not just the sky that’s dark, but our energy and mood darkens, too.
Exercise. My personal favorite? Hot yoga. It feels like you’re in Hawaii. Or Miami. Or some other sunny, sweaty paradise where clothing is almost entirely optional. And, what could be better than this? At the beginning of every class they give you permission to just lay there if you want. Every. Mom’s. Dream. Bonus: at the end you get to say you exercise even IF you take the instructor up on that offer.
Get together. One of my favorite things about Seattle is that people huddle together in coffee shops, and book stores, and concert halls in the winter. As a native Californian the coziness of gathering in Winter was new to me, so it took some getting used to. But now- I love the bustle of a crowded coffee shop in winter. Especially when I’ve got a table with friends (bonus if there’s a play area for kids.) Getting out of the house and seeing people you enjoy (even if you’re in sweats) is worth it. It’s boost to your personal happiness, it keeps you healthier, and it almost always wards off the blues (baby related or otherwise.)
Cultivate Hygge. What’s that, you ask? It’s the Danish concept of creating comfort and coziness in your home during the winter months. The Danish believe so strongly in this concept they have a special word for it! To follow their lead: light some candles, set a fire, set out some extra comfy blankets, put a roast in the oven, and cuddle (your partner, your pets, your little nursling as they nestle in to nurse) You’ll be amazed at how warm you feel inside and out. And that should get you through at least until the 1st of February.
*A note on Postpartum Mood Disorders…which are much more serious than Postpartum Blues and can be difficult to detect. A reported 20% of new mothers suffer from a postpartum mood disorder (and physicians and counselors agree that number is vastly low due to underreporting.) If you think you may be suffering from the latter, seek help. Tell your partner, tell a trusted friend, and most importantly seek medical help. There is absolutely no shame in a PPMD.