Dealing with Winter Blues by Faith Van Horne
I recently met Faith when she commented on one of my Healthy Writers Club posts. I was fascinated when she mentioned how karate has helped her improve her writing and vice versa, so I asked her to write monthly posts about writing and movement for us! Enjoy her insights! And share you own in the comments!
Winter is my least productive season, in pretty much all areas of my life. From the muted white sky that blocks the sun during most of the daylight hours (at least here in the Midwest), to the dark-too-early evenings, to the chill weather (though the last has been less marked so far this winter and last), I feel like it’s all I can do to haul myself out of bed and do the minimum of day job work without pounding donuts all day.
Almost everyone suffers some degree of “winter blues”, and some unfortunate souls suffer from the even more unpleasant SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Either way, many people’s physical and creative efforts suffer in the wintertime.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine keeps my mood lifted and tends to keep my writing more productive. But the dark and cold drag down my mood, making it harder to get in my exercise, which also drags down my word count, which depresses me… And so the vicious cycle used to go until Spring.
But then I found out it doesn’t have to! In the last couple of years I’ve found a number of strategies that help keep me both active and writing. If you have a tough time keeping motivated through the winter, give these a try.
Invest in a Light Box
A light box is a device that mimics sunlight, when the sun can’t be bothered to shine for us itself. According to studies, using a light box for 30 minutes or more each morning may balance circadian rhythms, and “flip a switch” in your brain that lifts your mood. I know that it’s helped me through the darkest time of year. There are numerous models available online. This is the one I purchased from Amazon two years ago, but there are many other models available. (Note: make sure you purchase a light box designed for treating SAD, not an artist’s light box.)
Take Vitamin D
The efficacy of Vitamin D in treating the symptoms of winter blues or SAD is debatable. Studies on the effects of adding the supplement have shown conflicting results. I know that when I remember to take my Vitamin D tablet regularly in the winter, it seems to have a positive effect. Of course, it could be acting as nothing more than a placebo. But even if so, the placebo effect is better than nothing.
Exercise, and write, as part of a group
This one is good advice for all seasons, but is especially helpful when the dreary weather thwarts progress. Maintaining a discipline under any circumstances is difficult; on my own, I find it’s that much harder. Having a group I’m accountable to vastly improves both my word count and fitness level. For example, I help instruct at my karate dojo, so my fellow students count on me to show up. That makes it much harder for me to say, “Sorry, I’m just curling up with this bag of Cheetos tonight.” Likewise with a good writing group. Sadly mine has become less active of late, and probably as a partial result, my laziness has undermined my writing results.
Keep to a writing and exercise schedule
Again, good year-round advice, but especially helpful in winter. When there’s so little light in the day, it can seem like the “active” part of the day is shorter. (Of course, I’m a night owl who usually does my most productive work after midnight, so I really have no excuse here. But it still hits me.) Making daily writing and exercise part of my set schedule helps keep one on task year-round.
Does winter interfere with your writing and fitness goals? How do you handle it? Please comment below. Thanks!
Faith Van Horne is the author of the young adult fantasy novel Slideways. She is currently putting together a collection of stories and working on another novel. In her free time, she practices karate, and even helps teach it a little. She blogs at Scribatious (faithvanhorne.blogspot.com).