Each year when I write a gift guide, I feel obliged to say that I do understand there are people who have trouble keeping the lights on, paying the heating bills, or keeping a roof over their head in winter. So let me first encourage you to donate to your local heating assistance fund or food bank, or Toys for Tots or a local organization that does similar work.
That being said, if you are buying gifts for someone special or engaging in a little retail therapy for yourself, I've got a few ideas for you based on items I've been loving lately. The theme of this year's gift guide: this is my Winter Survival Guide. Of course that's a bit tongue-in-cheek (hence the disclaimer that opens this blog post)—but it's also not so tongue-in-cheek when you consider what a menace depression can be.
The items on this list are all things that have helped me cope with depression and the winter blues, in ways large and small. I do earn a percentage of sales on some (but not all) of these items—but I can say that these are all things that I myself use, enthusiastically! I would never endorse a product I didn't personally love, just to make sales. (How would that even make any sense?!)
And even if you're not planning to buy anything, keep reading because my behavioral strategies for beating the winter blues are also woven into this post!
The first category involves hacking your physiology in favor of a better mood through the winter.
Research studies have found a strong association between Vitamin D deficiency and depression, and I personally have observed a big difference in my mood when I've stopped taking it (for example, going on a 3-week trip and thinking I could leave the supplement bottle at home... I won't be doing that again). For that reason, I recommend asking your doctor about whether a Vitamin D supplement could be a good idea for you, especially in the winter when we are less able to spend time outside exposed to sunlight, which our bodies need to synthesize Vitamin D. Buy it here
Light therapy has also been established as an effective component of a treatment plan for depression. Again, anyone living with depression should consult with a physician and preferably also a therapist and/or psychiatrist to determine the best treatment plan for you. However, I have personally found light therapy to be helpful for seasonal depression, and this is the lightbox I have.
I also have found a wake-up light to be very helpful. This is an alarm clock that also includes a light that starts out dim and gradually brightens, for 30 minutes before the alarm goes off. In this way it simulates the sunrise, so when you're getting out of bed in the winter and it's pitch-black outside, your body still gets the signal it needs (i.e., light) to start producing alertness hormones so you don't have that dreadful zombie-like feeling (I know you know what I mean). Get yours here
The second group of items will take a bit more work. In addition to vitamin D and fake sunlight, I highly recommend staying on top of nutrition and exercise to get you through the winter feeling relatively content and energized. If you have trouble achieving that on your own, well, that's exactly what I help people with as a coach!! I'd recommend checking out the systems I use with my clients:
When it comes to exercise, Beachbody on Demand is the best value around. At $99 a year (or even less in some combo packages with other products), it's way cheaper than any gym membership, and gives you access to more than 800 workouts in all styles—lifting, cardio, sports drills, martial arts, dance, yoga, tai chi—from some world-famous trainers including Shaun T, Chalene Johnson, Autumn Calabrese, Tony Horton, Chris Downing, and Sagi Kalev, among others. Since you can work out on your own schedule in the convenience of your home, but you also get access to a virtual support group for motivation and encouragement, it's really the best of both worlds! View options to enroll or try it for 14 days free
In addition to regular exercise, I really recommend paying attention to your nutrition—and specifically, eating a diet that's low in processed foods and high in vegetables, protein, and healthy fats, with wisely chosen carbs in moderation. This is exactly the approach I take in my nutrition coaching, with various programs and plans available depending on a specific client's needs. (If you're wanting to explore working together, you can fill out my intake questionnaire here and I'll reach out to follow up.) When someone is wanting to improve their eating habits, I often recommend the 3 Day Refresh as a first step because it's a short, defined experience that will get them started with this approach, and often feels more manageable in the beginning than long-term habit change. This program also comes with my coaching and guidance. Buy it here
I also personally feel that Shakeology makes a big difference to keeping my mood and energy solid and strong through the winter. With probiotics and digestive enzymes that help me absorb more nutrients from my food, and adaptogen herbs that help my body handle stress better, this shake is a non-negotiable for me daily. My sleep quality, digestion, and immune function have all improved since taking it. Of course, consult with your doctor before beginning any new supplement. Check out purchase options here or email me to see if I have free samples available at the present time.
In addition to everything described above, I recommend a focus on the basics of healthy living: getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, minimizing alcohol. We sometimes forget what a big difference these small changes can make.
Lastly, I'm all about the simple pleasures in life, and sometimes a little retail therapy is just that. If sparkly hair ties or a cute cup or nice smelling lotion makes you happy, don't feel guilty about indulging yourself. Personally I feel like simple pleasures like this help me make it through the winter feeling good, and help me have enough energy to do work I care about and connect with others instead of turning inward and isolating myself all winter long.
When winter approaches, these are few of my favorite things:
Handmade Heat therapy pack: This gift is specially designed by one of my Insta-friends who herself has dealt with pelvic pain. Made of cotton and linen with natural grain filling, this pack will comfort and soothe. I am especially pleased to promote this product because for each one that's purchased, Lindsay donates one to a woman in need! Learn more
Burt's Bees shea butter hand repair cream: When my skin gets painfully dry and cracked in the winter, this is the only lotion that helps—the only one! I have tried so many of them. This one is just something different. You can feel it healing and protecting as soon as it goes on. Get some here so you can try it asap!
Wine tumbler from This Life Made Easy: This is a fellow coach friend's store. She makes super cute stickers for planners as well as adorable cups with all kinds of clever sayings and other designs. Really unique and high quality. Visit her store
Teleties: I think I've worn this style of hair tie every day since first trying them last spring. There's simply nothing else like them in terms of holding your hair in place, even through a full workout with jumping! They don't tug or pull on your hair and they don't slip either! For someone like me with fine hair that's very slippery/silky, these were a complete game changer! Check them out here—and keep an eye out for the special winter holiday themed sets!
Taza chocolate: This Massachusetts-based company stone grinds organic cacao beans into unrefined, minimally processed chocolate with bold flavor and texture, unlike anything you have ever tasted. It lets the taste of the raw cacao shine! Your stack will include flavors such as cinnamon, coffee, almond, and vanilla, as well as pure and simple cacao. Prepare for your taste buds to be delighted! They are all about fair trade too, and you can read about it on their website. Order some here—they have some special holiday flavors too!
Thanks for checking out this list! Oh, and pssssst... don't miss out on entering my giveaway that's going on through December 16, 2018... you can actually win several of the items listed above!