Beating the Winter Blues One Year at a Time by Laura, ACE-CPT
Hello! My name is Laura Thomas and I am a personal trainer who transplanted to Cleveland 9.5 years ago from Florida.
I was a corporate marketer and decided to follow my passion into a career in fitness. I enjoy theatre, art, traveling and spending time with my husband and my beautiful dog Azalea.
I am Empowered & Poised because I am not afraid to reach out to others who are going through a tough time and see if I can offer help or insight.
This year is my 10th Cleveland winter, which I can hardly believe! I moved here from Florida in the fall of 2008 and my first winter was brutal. It wasn’t just adjusting to the cold and gray, although that was tough on my mood. It was also because my birthday, which is in February, was the first I didn’t receive a care package from my brother, who died by suicide in November of 2008. He sent me one every year, and its contents were always quirky and full of freebies that he had collected from savings coupons for every drug/grocery store in the Athens, Ohio, area. I would open the care package and laugh, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t grateful to be able to save money on toiletries for a bit longer.
Every year, I dread my birthday and promise myself I will not cry. Last year, I made it to 6:00 p.m. and then shed a few tears, but it wasn’t as dramatic as the years prior. I typically try to occupy myself with work or a good chat with a close friend to take my mind off of my sadness.
I have found that this time of year can get a lot of us down in general and dampen our mood. Here are a few things that have helped me get through the dreaded winter blues:
Plan something fun for the spring.
There are many festivals and sites to visit around Ohio—gardens that bloom in the spring with color and patios to sit on in the city. Get a few dates on the calendar with friends to have something to look forward to—maybe even plan a trip for later in the year!
Learn how to cook healthy comfort food.
Now is the time to make soups, Sloppy Joes, or slow cooker recipes and freeze or share them. I love cleaneating.com and Pinterest for recipes. Invite your friends and family over to cook and enjoy a meal!
Take a hot yoga class or anything that makes you sweat
—it feels great in the winter especially! Your muscles are so tense in the cold and I find my flexibility is much greater in hot yoga classes. If that isn’t your thing, try spinning, kickboxing or something that peaks your interest.
Join something that keeps your mind busy.
After my brother’s death, it took me a few years of adjusting to life in Cleveland to get to the point where I was able to get involved in something in his honor. I found my local chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2012 and began volunteering, which lead to me co-chairing the Out of the Darkness Cleveland Walk in 2015 and chairing it in 2016. Much of our planning was in the winter as it’s a fall walk, and winter was a great time to work on our summer outreach plan.
Watch the Olympics.
It’s an Olympic Year! I find the Olympics very inspiring, which could be bias because I am a personal trainer, but I enjoy watching the competitions and seeing all of the athletes’ hard work pay off. It takes up the bulk of February, which is perfect timing!
Work on interior house projects.
My husband and I are bound and determined to get our basement cleaned and donate a lot of our unused items. This is the perfect time of year to do those projects.
Celebrate a life.
My brother’s birthday is in March, right when the ice is melting and things are coming back to life. We have done things to celebrate it like making a cake or having dinner. You could do this at any time of the year for anyone’s birthday. My step family gets ice cream sundaes on my late grandmother’s birthday every year.
Above all else, “plow through” (pun intended).
We all know winter will pass and life will grow again. I try my best to enjoy the coziness and know that going outside for prolonged periods of time is in my future. I am also very careful not to overbook myself in case of weather (and the fact this time of year makes me want to go to bed at dusk). Lol.
Hope these tips help you in this darker time of year. We all deserve to be the light throughout!