7 Ways to Grieve Well in the Winter

7 Ways to Grieve Well in the WinterFor those of us in the midwest, Winter can be long, cold and rough. If you’re grieving the loss of a close loved one, the bleakness of the weather can make the process that much harder. While we can’t change the temperature or add more sunlight to your day, we’ve come up with 7 simple suggestions to help you grieve well during these winter months.

Get a Happy Lamp

Let’s be honest, waking up to darkness, working all day and driving home in the darkness can get depressing very quickly, Light Therapy through a sun lamp (or happy lamp as some like to call them) is often prescribed to those who have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) but is also a great option for those who are grieving during the winter. Our bodies need Vitamin D to function properly. Natural sunlight affects your circadian rhythm and tells your body to produce an abundance of melatonin in the evening so you can sleep better, and very little in the morning when it is time to get up. Research has shown that people who use light box therapy or dawn simulators feel better during the winter months than those who don’t. The light from these sources can stimulate your circadian rhythm and get you producing melatonin at the right times of the day. Here are some quick tips on making light therapy work for you:

  • Look for a sun lamp that uses full spectrum light. These sunlamps will be the closest to natural sunlight and will be most effective.
  • Use the sun lamp in the morning for 30 minutes to signal your body that it is time to slow down the production of melatonin.
  • Give yourself a week to see if the light therapy is making a difference in your body.

7 Ways to Grieve Well in the WinterFind a New Indoor Hobby

After a beautiful summer and a rather mild fall, we are finally hitting the depth of winter. For many Minnesotans, that means bundling up inside and doing everything we can to stay warm! While you’re cooped up inside, now is the perfect time to find a new hobby that you can enjoy indoors. Whether it’s taking a sewing class, starting a woodworking project or learning to cook, start something new this winter. Having something to challenge your hands or your mind will help you move forward through your grieving process.

Bundle Up and Get Outside

I know this one may not seem particularly appealing but there will be opportunities this winter where the sun is shining and the temperature is fairly reasonable. Take those opportunities to stretch your muscles and get outside! The exercise and movement of simply getting up and going outside will be well worth the chill. Just remember to wear lots of layers.

If you’re not up for going outside, there is another option for you. Try setting up a treadmill near a window where you would get sunlight and take a walk there. It’s almost as good as being outside and will get you some extra Vitamin D.

7 Ways to Grieve Well in the WinterSchedule Fun Activities

Did you know that just the act of smiling makes you feel better, even if you don’t have a reason to smile? The same is true of laughter. While you can smile and laugh by yourself at home, I think we can all agree that having people alongside you to giggle and grin with is much more fun. Schedule fun activities like ice skating, go caroling with friends (even if you can’t sing a lick!), or invite some friends over to watch a favorite holiday movie. Being joyful with friends doesn’t mean that you aren’t sad but shows that you’re taking care of yourself. Consider having a friend to help you plan out some fun activities so you’re not the only one driving the schedule.

Take Vitamin D Supplements

Since we’ve already discussed the importance of Vitamin D, this one is easy. Studies have shown that a Vitamin D supplement can significantly improve depression symptoms. Doctors recommend getting somewhere between 600 IU and 4000 IU of Vitamin D per day.  Make sure you’re aware of the IU’s in the supplement you choose as many start at 5000 IU’s per day. Look for one that has 2000 IU’s per capsule as a starting point.
Another option is to look for natural foods that are high in vitamin D or fortified with vitamin D.  Milk, some orange juice brands and dark leafy vegetables like kale can all add vitamin D to your diet.

Feed Yourself Right

The vitamins and nutrients that your body needs doesn’t change when you’re grieving unfortunately. Winter comfort foods are fine in moderation but remember how much the foods you eat affect your mood. Focus on feeding your body the things that it needs to function well.

Another suggestions is to keep a consistent schedule with your meals, even when you don’t feel like eating. Take time to eat at the same time every day to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

7 Ways to Grieve Well in the WinterBook a Vacation

That’s right! If it’s possible, go somewhere new, somewhere warm! The winter months in Minnesota are the perfect time to go on a special vacation, and if you’re grieving this winter, that is especially true. Bring a friend or go with your family members somewhere that you can eat well, rest as needed and have some fun too!

If somewhere warm isn’t possible, schedule a weekend or day trip somewhere close that you’ve always wanted to visit. A change in scenery and schedule can give you the extra pep in your step that you need.

Do you have other suggestions that have worked well for you? We’d love for you to share your ideas with others in the comments below. If you like this post, make sure to subscribe to keep getting articles like these right to your inbox.