I was feeling totally down and out last week. Not in the groove to work, not in the mood to hit the jogging track, not up to meeting friends! Not even that ultimate mood lifter – shopping – could do the trick. I was hit by the blues of the highest order. What do you expect – it’s the end of the year and I had just realised I had fallen back on so many of the to-dos on my 2017 list. Naturally, I wasn’t at my sunny best. So I did what people do when they need an escape – chat with long-distance friends. Except this turned out to be a not-so-great idea because my friend is in Denmark. It’s freezing cold out there and the spirits are not too high either. So while I spoke to him about my mood or the lack of it, he cribbed some more. To cut a long story short, it wasn’t very fruitful.
That was till he said that both of us seriously needed some hygge. Pronounced ‘hyoogah’, it loosely translates into ‘a feeling of cosiness’. It could mean doing things that make you feel warm – sit around people, beer/hot mug of coffee, cycle around the town with friends, chat around the fireplace revisiting childhood memories, for heavens’ sake even wash clothes in the launderette together while catching up on anecdotes!
Trust the world’s happiest people to come up with a solution for everything. For people in Denmark, the hygge is a sure shot way to snap out of the winter blues that inflicts itself on most people struck by harsh winters.
SAD & with a reason
If you’ve stayed all your life in the sunny parts of India where seasons change from summer to summer to summer with some intermittent rains, it might come as a surprise to you that people suffer from a sort of depression that’s actually caused due to the winter. Long stretches of no sun, bleak days, long, cold nights – perfect recipe for depression, it seems. Called the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it causes people to be listless, irritable and asocial. While largely seen as a by-product of winter, SAD apparently doesn’t really discriminate when it comes to seasons. It could even affect people during the monsoon or the peak of summer too. Yet, mainly it is the winter that does people in.
And you can squarely put the blame on the lack of light, researchers say. Would you believe what the Scandinavians do to beat the winter blues? Positive thinking and light therapy clinics are fine, some people even use giant mirrors to reflect the sun’s rays down to their houses!
How do I beat the blues?
If installing giant mirrors is not your thing, fear not, we have other, more feasible solutions to beat the winter blues. If you are however thinking of curling up further under your blankets binge-watching shows or movies on Netflix, banish that thought. Think more on the lines of creating some hygge!
Not the show, silly, we are talking flesh and blood people. Inviting your friends over to your house is the best thing you can do to get over your frumpiness. One piece of advice – don’t order food. Get together and make your own. The dish all of you used to trip on at the college canteen could be a good idea. Just sit together and spend time talking about life and times together.
Plan a vacation
Whether you pack your bags and leave immediately or not is not the moot point. The planning is crucial. Planning a vacation, exploring places to go to, detailing out maps… can you feel the joy already? Think about it, how much thrill and excitement goes into figuring those little things about a vacation! So do just that, if you are feeling the blues coming on. Think of a place, think of various ways of getting there, with whom you would like to hit the place and how you would spend your time there. Looking up places to stay in, eat at, and shop from, automatically creates a sense of exhilaration in your mind.
Turn up the music
Ever tried listening to Led Zappelin when you are feeling kind of low? What would you like to bet the blues won’t remain for long! If you want to go from 0 to 100 in no time, music is your go-to tool. Put on something peppy, rev up the sound and watch your mood transform. Try not to go mellow or soulful with the music when you are feeling low. Pick out foot-tapping numbers for a change, will you?
Pump it up
Nothing like exercising to keep the sulkiness away. If gymming is not your thing, just wear your walking shoes and hit the track. Go jogging or spinning or take up a form of martial arts. A lot of people now rely on dancercise too. So go try the zumba or belly-dancing; it might just be your cup of tea. Shake your booty and shake off the sadness, may, after all, be serious advice.
Bring in the new
When was the last time you did something totally new? If it took you more than 10 seconds to think up something, it means it’s been ages. So, now is the time to! Even though you don’t feel like it, pull yourself up and sign up for that kick-boxing class or drumming workshop you have been postponing since a long time. Doing something new with yourself will give you a goal to look forward to everyday, to pull yourself out of bed and dress up formally and make an effort to go to class. That effort will be quite enough to send the blues a-packing.
Don’t look for quick-fix solutions when it comes to food. Eat foods that are known mood elevators. Chocolate is okay for a bit but not for too long. So look for a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. A big thumbs up also for foods that are heavy on Vitamin B 12 or folic acid. Think chicken, lean meats, lettuce, spinach or salmon.
Open up to happiness – could be the turnkey solution to your winter depression. Draw open your curtains, let the light flow in. Open up your purse strings to help those who seem in need. Open up your heart to allow more compassion and understanding. Small steps in the direction of opening up will help you in creating a sense of warmth and a sense of community well-being. Watch your blues taking flight to outer space then!
Read a comic series
Have you stashed away all your Archies, Asterix and Tinkle comics in the attic? This is just the right time to bring them down and read up. If you are all by yourself and do not have company to entertain you, don’t sulk. Comic book characters have been my companions for ages. If not comics, read a humour writer you love.
Throw a ‘hygge’ party
And when struck the worst by the blues, do as the Danish do! Throw a hygge party. Get together everyone and spend time with each other discussing the good things in life – books, art, people and places. Stand by and watch the food, banter, music and laughter chase the winter blues away.