Open Thread: How Do You Beat The Winter Blues?

889 Like most of you I've battled with depression - ranging from mild to severe - since my early teens. Yesterday was apparently one of the saddest Mondays of the year -  say experts - because everyone's grappling with post-Christmas debt, lack of sunshine and a general malaise of life. If you're feeling down right now, then hopefully, I might be able to help. I've devoted a hefty part of my existence to consulting shrinks and other experts about ways to combat depression and anxiety and these days I never stay down for long (thankfully). Here's my tips and they definitely work (for me), maybe they'll help you: Wallow: Don't spent all day valiantly battling against that feeling of impending doom and woe. Go to bed, pull the covers over your head and allow yourself ten minutes of sobbing, howling and generally feeling sorry for yourself. I usually get bored of it after a while and am up again, feeling better. A friend says to stick your head in an empty washing machine and scream as loud as you can - apparently it does the trick. The Best Friend To Yourself Trick: Some days I have to look at problems as if I was someone else advising myself. Basically I act as my own cheerleader saying, "Ah feck it, don't worry you'll be fine". I'm making a huge effort to not be at the mercy of my emotions and give into my drama-Queen tendencies. The reason for this is you can't solve problems if you're down, anxious and stressed. Staying calm is key if you're going to problem solve so force yourself to think positive and fake it until you make it. Walk: Haul yourself out of the house and go for a ten-minute walk (or more if you can bear it). Even if it's tipping with rain you can pretend you're Catherine Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights. The fresh air will blow the cobwebs away. Getting your circulation going will make you feel better. Exercise: I HATE working out. But, I know that after one hour of loathing every second I do feel better emotionally for the rest of the day. A workout first thing can change your entire day for the better. It works. I want to get into yoga as everyone says that's a mind and body fix that works. Bath: There's something comforting about splashing about in a warm bubble bath anointing yourself with oils and scented lathered goodness. It's a ten-minute fix that does the trick for me every single time. Clean: Tidying the house is the last thing you want to do when you're down. But tell yourself that you'll just do it in five minute blasts. Put your iPod on full and sing along and before you know it you'll get into it. It's a yogic thing - your body being busy leaving your mind free to work through things. Just a quick clean makes all the difference and a tidy house does indeed breed an uncluttered mind. Give each area 5 minutes - so the washing up, putting the washing on, the hoovering etc each gets five minutes. Just a quick tidy makes a difference over all and you'll feel less stressed and as if everything's overwhelming you. Candles: Light scented candles around the house, after opening the window in every room to let some fresh air in. I love coconut scented candles because it makes me feel as if I'm in a luxury spa, but different scents mean different things to different people. has some amazing hand made ones that are a fraction of the cost of a Jo Malone or Dyptique candle. Laugh: This is Ant0scar's idea and I've stolen it and it works. Google John Travolta whenever you're down. The man really is the happiness fairy and whether you're singing along to old routines from Saturday Night Fever or Grease or laughing at his latest facial furniture and penchant for reverse massage therapy, you'll feel your spirits lift immediately.  Write: Writing a problem down halves its power to hurt you. Start a wordpress blog and keep a diary of your thoughts online. And this sounds a bit twee but keep a happiness journal. It's a book you keep and write down everything in your life that you feel grateful for every day. It can be something like your health, or something tiny. It could be your children, family, friends - anything at all so long as it's something that you're grateful for. It's so easy to get in the habit of thinking about what you don't like about your life that we forget to devote time to what we do like. Pop in photos of yourself on holiday or during any other time that you were happy. Add letters and drawings from your kids and so on and eventually just thinking about your happiness journal will put you in a sunny mood. Don't Procrastinate: Putting things off is tempting, but, it still hangs over you, making you feel vaguely edgy every time you think of it. I HATE doing my company accounts. But what I do is try and imagine the feeling of accomplishment I'll have at the end and I distract myself with episodes of True Blood to ease the pain.  Procrastinating is something we all do, but try to force yourself to just get on with whatever it is - because it's never as bad as your mind is painting it to be. Putting something off is not being good to yourself, it's being bad to yourself. You'll feel better when the dreaded 'to-do' is done and that's the aim here. Take: I'm a big believer in the following supplements taken each morning for fighting depression: Kelp, Magnesium, Omega 3, Vitamin D, the Vitamin B family (you can find a tablet that contains a bit of each of them at your local health store but I find B6 and B12 the ones I need the most), L-Tyrosine (gives you a surge of physical and mental energy). For Sleep: Melatonin supplements about 30 minutes before bed are a natural and effective way to get those all important Z's. For your skin: Vitamin E, plus Borage oil supplements and Zinc are the holy trinity for clear skin. Avoid: Alcohol (it's like fighting a fire with petrol drinking your woes away when you're depressed because alcohol is a depressant). Sugar buzz: wolfing back a giant bar of chocolate might make you high for a while but in an hour or two you'll have a nasty crash and feel like a toddler mid-tantrum. You'll also probably feel guilty about the extra calories. If you're craving chocolate, try a couple of slices of dark chocolate, which is a Superfood, apparently, and so rich you won't be tempted to eat loads. Caffeine: I LOVE coffee, but guzzling endless lattes and diet cokes will make you anxious as it floods your poor adrenals. Give yourself a daily allowance of, say, one or two caffeine drinks and then drink lots of lovely water the rest of the day. Your skin will thank you as will your lowered stress levels. Eat: Here's my anti-depression diet:-
Breakfast: Oatmeal with sliced banana, berries, honey (Oats are a superfood and will give you a slowly released source of energy all morning,  Bananas have Potassium in them which you need to fight anxiety and depression). Lunch: Poached eggs on brown toast (eggs have Omega 3 in them and give you an instant lift. I defy anyone to not feel better after eating boiled eggs and Marmite soldiers, Marmite is a great source of B12). Mid-afternoon snack: A bowl of chicken soup. It can be the dried packet soup which only takes five minutes to make. Just the smell will make you feel like life's worth living again.  Dinner: Beef or chicken with a pile of green veggies, yoghurt with berries for dessert. I always feel better after eating beef - it's apparently something to do with my blood group. Cottage pie, gravy and veggies is a plate of heaven. It doesn't have to be fattening either - have a giant portion of vegetables, I like half my plate to be vegetables and if you smother them in gravy then they're pretty irresistible.  Snacks: Goji berries - keep a bag of goji berries to hand to nibble all day and you'll feel amazing. They contain fibre, antioxidants and Vitamins B, C and Manganese.  Drinks: Water, Green tea with a spoonful of honey. There's growing evidence that Green tea has compounds that fight cancer and that it helps weightloss. It contains B vitamins, folate (naturally occurring folic acid), manganese, potassium, magnesium, caffeine and other antioxidants (notably catechins). I used to think it was gross but after adding runny honey to it and avoiding the minty version I like it just as much as the traditional builder's tea. 
Phew! There's a lot of tips. Obviously if you're so down that you simply can't get out of bed you DO need to see a doctor. Two out of three people suffer with depression at some point in their lives and getting help from a professional and putting a name to the problem will help. I'm a big believer in the two-pronged attack of seeing a GP and a therapist (it has to be the right therapist though, get recommendations if you can). Tell people: Do not fight depression on your own as it's far too overwhelming and you need as much hep as you can get. Hugs, love and understanding are what you need.   Over to you, dear readers - what do you do when the black clouds of woe descend?

About Jen Paul (BOHOMOTH)

Jenny Paul is a veteran showbiz reporter who is based in Cannes in the south of France. She has worked on major breaking news stories over the past decade and more for entertainment news outlets worldwide including: Us Weekly (USA), People magazine (USA), E! News (USA) ABC News (USA), The New York Post (USA), The Sun (UK), The Mirror (UK), The Daily Mail, (UK), The Mail on Sunday (UK) and many others too numerous to mention. She firmly believes that love, truth, hugs, dogs and the power of laughter make the world a better place.
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18 Responses to Open Thread: How Do You Beat The Winter Blues?

  1. Iluvfishsticks says:

    This is relevant to me at the moment as most of my entire office is down right now. Obviously there’s a clear difference between clinical depression (which needs to be addressed clinically) and being fed up. But i do think many of us (including me) are guilty of an almost childlike assertion that life somehow should be perfect all the time when the truth is life is sad and often dull.

    Yes, cleaning the house, screeching kids, lack of sleep, money troubles and all of that stuff IS shit but no-one ever said life was like a Disney movie with bluebirds flying in the window and doing the cleaning for us before Prince Charming gets home.

    The trick is to find the currants on the cake of life and appreciate them if at all possible and get your head down and battle through the stale/ hard/ annoying parts.

    But best of luck to anyone suffering with depression and reading this. Speak up, it’s important not to suffer in silence.

  2. Ant0scar says:

    Brave Jen. As always, that noise I can hear is a nail being hit over the head. For me: Laugh (thanks John Travolting) + Exercise + Sun + Sleep = :-) x

  3. Canuck says:

    Happy music, for me it tends to be Latin. But anything that makes you want to dance. Personal favorite at the moment (because you really can’t not want to get up and move to their stuff): The Juju Orchestra

    Also, going for a massage. At the moment, I have the good fortune to live somewhere that it’s not expensive. Stressed, down… Hot stone massage does the trick for me. I walk out of my faborite place here completely zen.

  4. Jen Paul says:

    BTW Ant0 I was so fed up over Christmas and your John Travolta tip really and I mean REALLY worked :D so yay and thanks for that xxx

  5. Jodie says:

    We have the reverse in The Southern Hemisphere. Winter is brutal. You just wish for some light. All those hints are bang on. Also, try to be around people and have some perspective (as hard as that can be when you are really low) that most of the time it does pass Xxx.

    • Jen Paul says:

      That’s so true about who you try and be around having an effect on you. I tell my kid a quote from Snoop Dogg (of all people) which is if you hang out with 9 crack dealers you become the 10th and if you hang out with 10 doctors you become the 10th. If you hang out with chilled people who larf their heads off then chances are you will too.

  6. Jameson says:

    Sex beats the winter blues, and a few other things. ;)

  7. scottface says:

    I would add 5HTP to the list of supplements, it has proved to be a very useful crutch through tough times and really helps even out the ups and downs of PMT.

  8. Flffgrrrlr says:

    I like cooking and baking. Anything methodical calms me. And you get something nice to eat out of it.

  9. Boadaciousbetty says:

    And don’t be tempted to wallow for too long or you’ll go to bed and wake up to find 6 years have passed, everyone else’s lives have moved on, and you have become a recluse without quite knowing how it happened. Jen’s advice about getting out in the fresh air for a few minutes every day is so important, and if you really can’t face it, open some windows and stand quietly while you breathe in slowly and deeply. In through the nose, out through the mouth, but silently and gently – don’t pant. And allow your head to slowly fall back, close your eyes, and roll your head very gently from side to side.

    And cling on to the fact that this, too, shall pass and you will step out into the light again at some point. In the meantime do whatever you can to stay afloat, and speak to someone who loves you at least once every day.

    Beautiful post, Jen :)

    PS. Bloody January takes me by surprise every single year.

  10. Brilliant post Jen and brilliant suggestions. Here are mine:
    Every day at 6 O clock, My father downs tools and has a gin and tonic, a packet of crisps and a cigar while sitting looking out over his garden with his 2 labrador’s (the labs only get one crisp each or they get too fat). I do it at 7 or 8pm with a Bellini and it really does help me release all the stress from the work day (my cat ‘James T. Kirk’ also only has one crisp because he has a tendency to look like a christmas pudding).
    In the winter I love to watch a dvd of a log fire, complete with crackles and pops, on my tv – all my friends love it and say it actually makes them feel warmer and happier.
    I highly recommend Paul McKenna’s 10 minute hypnosis cd “I Can Make You Happy”. I listen to it in the morning when I’m just waking up and it really does give me feelings of joy welling up inside me. His “How to Control Stress and Anxiety” cd is brilliant as well. You can get them on Ebay for 3 or 4 quid.
    And finally, my constant companion in winter – the furry hot water bottle has teddy bear like qualities of cheering and calming. Roll on Spring.
    May the Force be With You All!
    Scarlett xoxoxxo

  11. PS. This always makes me laugh:

    Eddie Izzard on Englebert Humperdink

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