As the nights draw in and we begin to settle down for the long winter ahead, the impending dark and cold can leave many of us feeling low. If you’re single the long winter can spark feelings of loneliness and a desire to meet someone special. For couples, winter cold and darkness can stifle spontaneity and the fun that summer brings.
So how can couples and singles avoid the onset of the Winter blues? “The first thing it’s important to realise is that there is a big difference between having the winter blues versus the medical condition ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder known as SAD,” says Dr Gian Gonzaga, relationship scientist for eHarmony.co.uk. “SAD is a chemical imbalance in the brain that needs medical help. The winter blues is something that can be overcome by changing a few habits and altering your day to day routine.”
Dr Gian Gonzaga has come up with ten ways you can stave off the relationship doldrums that winter can bring, whether you’re single or in a relationship:
Movies –Snuggling up on the sofa and watching a DVD, is a great way to spend the night or a Sunday afternoon if it’s raining or snowing outside, but actually going to the cinema gets you out of your house. Pick one night every other week, or even a weekend matinee to actually go to the cinema. An alternative to catching a film is going to a nearby museum. The entry is free and art and/or science can lead to great discussion following.
Class Act – Depending on schedules, take a class. Make sure it is something you both are interested in, but taking a course together such as cooking or dancing is fun and active. If you have children, getting them involved will be an educating experience for the whole family. If you’re single, it’s a great way to meet new people.
Hobby – It might sound clichéd but taking up a hobby that involves a group is a perfect way of getting out of the house. Whether it’s something as simple as a reading group or something a bit different like bowling or even a local amateur dramatics, it will get you out of the house and meeting new people. You may just find the voice you didn’t know you had!
Make a date – don’t wait for others to invite you. Take control and plan your diary so you have evenings to look forward to. Whether it’s meeting up with friends or joining social groups like the local pub trivia team, plan your social calendar in advance..
Winter Walks – The darker nights are not a reason to cook dinner, eat and call it a night. Bundle up in your warmest clothes and take a walk. If you’re in the country, clear winter nights are a great time to see the stars. If you’re in a city, embrace the early darkness and enjoy the city lights.
Music – Are a favourite band playing nearby but you’re friends just aren’t interested in attending? If you’re single, go alone. You don’t usually converse during a concert anyway and you’re out enjoying the music you love. Besides, there might be someone else there who is single with the same in mind. If you can’t bear the thought of heading out in the cold get out some of those loud, foot-tapping (or guitar-smashing) favourites, crank up the stereo, and dance as if no one’s watching (especially if no one actually is). Music can impact on mood, and the exercise is a great blues-buster.
Find the tropics locally. Visit a greenhouse or conservatory – or in some areas, even a local garden store that maintains a large indoor plant collection – for a reminder of spring. Other places to look for foliage include local zoos, or even the botany department of a local university.
Open up space. Staying indoors can make us feel confined. Take time to clear a room of clutter and perhaps rearrange a little to make the space more open — face a chair so you can see out the window, or take out a coffee table to open up the floor. Or if that seems like too much effort, take an afternoon to visit an art gallery, cathedral or temple, or even a beautifully designed hotel lobby or office building. And whilst there, look up and enjoy the sense of space.
Stretch out. Help your muscles release tension and address small aches and pains. Start a stretching, yoga, or Pilates routine at home, or by signing up for a class. Even 15 minutes a day can make a real difference.
Holiday in bed. Go to a local newsstand or bookstore and pick up a variety of newspapers or magazines from cities around the world. The next morning, serve yourself (or get your spouse to serve you) a continental breakfast in bed: Stretch out and read the international news. You might as well be in a Paris hotel room!
[picture credits: slayerphoto; Potatojunkie]