Winter Depression and the Truth About Self-care

Taking it One Step at a Time.

Darkness when we leave the house in the morning, darkness when we return home in the evening. Cold, rain and wind, all this quickly puts on our mood. In winter, most people feel listless or in a bad mood. One would prefer to pull the blanket over one’s head and simply hibernate. Only a stay in southern hemispheres frankly helps, but who can spend the whole winter on holiday? Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do for yourself so that you don’t fall into a low winter mood.

I could tell you now about the Yoga Selfcare Standard Program, which you probably already know anyway, and which you probably can’t hear anymore. If you really wanted to take care of yourself, you would:

– meditate every day

– write in your journal every day

– do yoga every day

– eat healthily every day

Of course, these tools from the yoga toolbox are helpful and wonderful. They help us every day to take care of ourselves, to get along better with ourselves and to get depressions, winter blues and anxiety under control. But if we don’t manage to squeeze all of them into our busy schedules, the guilty conscience creeps in. And then the bad feeling that no matter how hard we try; we just can’t get it done and just aren’t good enough. The “self-optimization delusion” begins. And that is exactly the opposite of self-care. Self-Care becomes another point on the never-ending to-do list and only triggers more negative thoughts.

Of course, these tools from the yoga toolbox are helpful and wonderful. They help us every day to take care of ourselves, to get along better with ourselves and to get depressions, winter blues and anxiety under control. But if we don’t manage to squeeze all of them into our busy schedules, the guilty conscience creeps in. And then the bad feeling that no matter how hard we try; we just can’t get it done and just aren’t good enough. The “self-optimization delusion” begins. And that is exactly the opposite of self-care. Self-Care becomes another point on the never-ending to-do list and only triggers more negative thoughts and feelings in the already dreary winter. But selfcare doesn’t have to be perfect. Selfcare should above all do us good!

Self-care can also be cuddling up on the sofa and binge-watching a TV-Show over the weekend drinking hot cocoa or also a whole bottle of mulled wine. The most important thing is not to judge yourself because you should rather do yoga and you should not have eaten a whole pack of gingerbread.

Fuck it, live and be well! Because all that tormenting depression shit starts in your head! It’s because you feel guilty due to constantly wanting to optimize yourself and to be as happy, healthy and fit as all the Instagram-Yogis. And then you tell yourself how bad you are, how lazy and how undisciplined. You blame the weather for everything and at this point, the negative self-talk loop in your head starts, wanting to pull you into a big black winter hole in no time.

Watch your thoughts and how you talk to yourself! How you constantly make yourself bad (I’m so stupid, lazy, fat etc.) or talk badly about the winter (In this weather nobody wants to go out the door etc.) and then think about how you would talk to your best friends or children. Would you tell them these desolate things? How does that feel? You don’t want that, do you?

This is the point where your selfcare starts, in your head and in your mind. In the way you talk to yourself. And if you ever try to pay attention to it and evaluate everything in a less negative way, then you can also talk your way out of it. In a positive way. And by that I don’t mean that exaggerated “Everything consists of love “-Talk.

I am talking about noticing the small joys in your everyday life. The colorful leaves that fall from the trees, the clinking cold morning, the fog that envelops everything like a cuddly blanket, or the glittering snow.

A Selfcare Day or the Tools from My Yoga Toolbox

If the whole Shizzel of cold, darkness and bad mood has caught you, then treat yourself with a whole day just for you. Or pick one of my following tips and build it into your normal day. What’s important is that you take your time alone. Turn off your mobile phone, turn off the bell and tell your family or roommates that you want to have time for yourself.

– Light some candles, maybe you’d like to smudge a little or light a scented lamp. The essential oils that lift the mood are not esoteric hocus-pocus, but scientifically proven. Among the best mood-lightening fragrances are bergamot, lavender, rosemary, rose and frankincense.

– Make yourself a pot of delicious tea. Just like essential oils, herbs have been helping against winter blues for thousands of years. St. John’s wort is the best known and most effective plant, but you have to drink it every day for a longer period of time to make it work. High-quality green tea not only has an antioxidant effects but is also supposed to lift the mood. A golden milk or hot cocoa is a great alternative to tea. Turmeric in golden milk is just as antidepressant as chocolate in cocoa.

– Roll out your yoga mat and do your own practice, or practice with a video from the Internet. Just do what’s good for you and feels pleasant right now. Half an hour of Restorative or Yin Yoga might lift your spirits more than if you torment yourself through the first Ashtanga series without feeling like it. There’s nothing to say against physical exhaustion, but if you just don’t feel like pushing hard and doing challenging poses, don’t. Nobody’s forcing you, except your own self-optimization delusion.

– Practice Pranayama. The yogic breathing exercises are fantastic and simple means to help with depressive moods. Kapalabhati, the skull shining breath, activates and brings you fresh energy, and thus also better mood. You can also perform the simple Suryabedha. It works in a similar way to Nadi Shodana, the alternating nostril breathing. Your right hand forms the Vishnu mudra and you alternately close your nostrils with your ring finger and thumb. The only difference is that you always inhale right, and exhale left. The right side stands for solar energy and we can use it especially well in winter. Also, the normal alternate nostril breathing with holding your breath gives you energy and balances your mood.

– Meditate. Also, in this point you can let YouTube & Co guide you in a wonderful way. It has been scientifically proven that regular meditation helps against depression. You learn to observe your thoughts better and recognize more quickly harmful patterns that tell you negative nonsense about yourself or your outside world. You are slowly becoming nicer to yourself, your environment and happier.

– Get inspiration(s)! In times of podcasts, YouTube, and blogs, this is easier than ever! You don’t have to buy a philosophical tome or browse the local library; you’ll find inspiration everywhere on the Internet! Free and easily available! When you listen to a podcast, you can lie comfortably on the couch and sip your tea, do housework or go from A to B. Or you can read a few blogs that deal with self-love, yoga or similar topics. Trust that the right inspiration will find its way to you without you having to search for it. Or quite unselfish: Have a look at my blog: www.riotyoga.de.

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