Winter Blues – it’s a thing. Whether you live in Alaska or in the south, shorter winter days mean less sunlight and less of the all-important vitamin D our bodies and minds use to stay healthy. Over the last 30 years many scientific studies have shown how shorter days can affect your mood.
A significant portion of the US population finds itself feeling winter sadness around holidays. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, winter blues and a more severe version of it, a type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder can impact the health, productivity and happiness of a surprising number of people this time of year.
What can we do about it?
Here’s the good news – there are several ways you can fend off the winter blues. One of the best and easiest ways is to make your bed every morning. Yes, make your bed. It is indeed that simple.
Making your bed every morning can help you fend off the sadness and lack of energy a lot of us feel over the winter. Here are some other helpful tips to help you avoid the ho-hum we sometimes feel during the winter months.
Spend time outdoors. Bundle up if you need to and enjoy the sunshine while you can. Every bit of it helps.
If for some reason getting outside is difficult, there are special sunlight simulation boxes that mimic the beneficial effects of the sun. According to the NIH, “Our research has found that patients report an improvement in depression scores after even the first administration of light”.
Despite how chilly things can get over the winter, it’s important to exercise and stay active. Binge watching your favorite tv shows is to be expected, but make sure you squeeze in some exercise.
This is a tough one especially during the holidays. Enjoy your all your favorite foods as long as you remember to balance them out with more healthy choices either during the day or during the week.
As much as possible, spend time with your family and friends to strengthen your social bonds.
Make your bed and change the world
Hard to believe? William H. Raven, retired Navy four-star admiral, best known for commanding the Seal Team 6 mission to bring in Osama Bin Laden, believes making your bed every morning sets your day up for success. In fact, he wrote a book about the importance of it called, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life . . . And Maybe the World.
No one can dispute Admiral McRaven is a very busy, results-oriented, no nonsense kind of person, yet he dedicates a few, precious minutes every day to the ritual of making his bed. In his famous Ted Talk McRaven declares, “If you wanna change the world, start off by making your bed.” As a leader among leaders, there’s a pretty good chance he knows how to be successful. Learn more here.
Making your bed has benefits
According to Audrey Sherman, Ph.D., and my grandmother, “Making your bed is good for your mental health. . . The messes and disorganization in your home can actually be an outward expression of what’s going on inside your head.” How about that? So, I can either make my bed or put a giant lock on my bedroom door.
Set the intention for the day
Taking a minute or two to make your bed proves “I can be successful with the first task of the day.” The more you have to do the rest of your day, the more this first achievement becomes important. Even better, at the end of what might be an overwhelming day, coming home to a well-made and welcoming bed can help you de-stress and get a better night’s sleep.
Actions, objects, times and places help us create rituals. When it comes to the ritual of making your bed, there’s plenty with which to be creative and have some fun.
When it comes to the corner of the mattress, are you a hospital corner kind of person or a military bed sort of sleeper? Do you finish off your bed with throw pillows stacked 3 high or one of those creepy porcelain dolls my great aunt props up on top of her perfectly made bed?
When you make your bed, do you start at the head of the bed or the foot of the bed? Of course this matters because we’re talking about rituals here.
Do you have a set schedule to wash your sheets or do you just follow your nose? Most experts on hygiene recommend we wash our sheets every week and our sleeping pillows even more often. How about you?
Some people use fitted sheets on top of the mattress and some like to use a bed skirt on their box spring.
Every time I stay at a hotel, I like to see how well the bed is made. It kind of gives me an impression of what the rest of the hotel will be like. The quality of the duvet or comforter they use is something I notice. How they fold the top sheet matters. Sometimes I'll try to make my bed at home the same way.
Whether you prefer duvet covers or top sheets, blankets or comforters, whatever you place on top of your bed, is perfectly fine as long as you make it.
Some fringe benefits to bed making
A list of benefits can be yours from making your bed every morning. You might not expect it, but according to recent surveys from OnePoll and Sleepolis, the benefits include waking up without an alarm, being happier, more productivity and more activity between the sheets shall we say. People who make their bed every morning also tend to be more social, more confident, and adventurous.
We’ve already mentioned it, but it’s worth repeating – making your bed can give you a better day at work and a better night’s sleep.