Tips for Combating the Winter Blues

February 19, 2016

2:30 pm

Winter in the DC area is so unpredictable. One day the high will be 5 degrees and you’re still freezing under your six layers of North Face clothing, and the next day will be 60 degrees and sunny. We’re also no stranger to the occasional snow dump that shuts down the region for a week.

One of the great things about living in an urban area like downtown Arlington, VA is that you don’t have to shovel out your car to get out of the house – there are a lot of options in walking distance. The area is home to tons of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. If you work remotely, like I do, there are also a number of co-working spaces for when the coffee shops are fresh out of outlets.

There are a number of ways to beat the winter blues in Arlington and elsewhere. There are even a few ways to feel better about the dreary weather without even leaving the comfort of your house (although you will probably want to get out for fresh air at some point. It’s amazing what a little natural light can do). Finding ways to cope is especially necessary if you happen to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Here are a few tips for when the days are short, gray, and chilly:

  • Talk it out: Therapy has been proven effective for those suffering from SAD or seasonal depression. It could even work better than light therapy.
  • Exercise: I feel like exercise is the answer to a lot of things. Getting the blood pumping can send endorphins to your brain and working out vigorously 3-4 times a week can do wonders for mild depression.
  • Be social: Even if you’re a natural introvert, I’m sure you have those friends who make you feel better when you’re around them. Make plans with those people and remember what it’s like to have fun.
  • Cultivate ‘koselig’: Koselig is a Norwegian word meaning ‘a state of being warm, kind and cozy.’ Embrace all of the things that are wonderful about being in out of the cold. Keep warm blankets around, sip hot tea, light some candles or a fire if you have a fireplace.

Now that you’ve read some of our tips, here are some ways that entrepreneurs make it through the winter months and fight the urge to hibernate until spring.

Peter Allegretti, CEO of Dumbstruck barely even notices the seasonal change because he’s too busy being passionately involved in his company.

“The winter blues aren’t so…well, blue….when you’re working towards something big and ambitious that the whole team believes in. I’ve found that the excitement that comes from team buy-in is the best tonic for the winter blues.”

Other entrepreneurs, such as Kristin Marquet founder of the tech lifestyle startup TheLABDaily.com chooses to vacation in the winter to give herself a break from the daily grind.

“I try to take a vacation every January. I also try to work from home two days a week, and spend the rest of the time with my staff in our New York City office. Each office environment is bright to offset any gloominess.  I also try to eat a balanced diet and workout five days a week to keep my spirits up.”

You might be able to take a vacation per say, but if you have the flexibility to work remotely you can migrate to somewhere warmer.

“Lots of entrepreneurs, particularly in tech, have a huge amount of flexibility in where they’re based,” says Tim Perry, Founder and CEO of Build Focus. “Move somewhere sunnier! I’ve moved to Barcelona while working on my business to avoid the British winter, and it’s reached highs of 22 degrees C (71F) in the last month, and until last week we were on a 90 day streak without rain.”

Zachary Weiner, CEO of Emerging Insider also migrates for the winter.

“In order for me to keep my cool or perhaps the opposite of that, I take a month to work remotely somewhere further south. I’ve had jaunts in Brazil, Costa Rica, islands in the Caribbean etc. The rules:Southern Hemisphere is best as it keeps me on a similar time zone. While Asia would be great, working at 3am is less so.My employees and I do a 20-minute video Skype session daily to check in.I Airbnb my own home in the city to help offset costs during the time period.”

Or if you’re lucky enough, maybe you work for a company like Under30Experiences, and have the ability to move your whole team south for the winter.

“Our travel company Under30Experiences moves our office to Costa Rica from Austin, Texas,” says co-founder Matt Wilson. “We give our marketing team the ability to beat the cold, learn Spanish, hang out at the beach, and we rent a house for our team of 5 to work from.”

If moving closer to the Equator for three months isn’t within your means, another way to shake a grouchy winter mood is to blast some tunes with happy, sunny video accompaniment of places you’d rather be.

“I’m usually writing code,” says Alex Sopinka, CTO of Tasytt, (based in Canada, so they know a thing or two about cold weather). “So I throw on some up-beat summer music videos on the Chromecast and then I can watch beaches instead of blizzards!”

You may have a nerdy hobby or love getting crafty. Whatever it is, indulge in it. Better yet if it’s a hobby that allows your mind to focus on something other than work and the weather.

“An hour of knitting before bed: yep, I’m half a century away from the retirement home yet, have discovered that I sleep really well after an hour of knitting before bed each night,” admits Bing Cai, Founder and CEO at Alouit. “I’ve tired meditation but my mind is far to busy. Knitting forces my mind to focus on each stitch so there are no holes in my new cushy infinity scarf. Also, brightly colored scarves give me an extra boost of happiness.”

Short days and grey sky can be one of the biggest winter challenges to those who thrive on sunlight. This is where light therapy can be a big mental and emotional boost.

“I personally am sensitive to reduced sunlight in the winter,” says Robert Edell,Founder and CEO of Servy, a venture-backed startup that crowdsources mystery dining for restaurants. “I think one of the best solutions is incorporating light therapy into your regime. Whether it’s a happy light at your desk or a UV filtered therapy attachment you wear for part of your morning routine, light therapy can improve your mood and energy levels, as well as help your body regulate its melatonin levels to get to sleep easier at night.”

Amanda Rose, Founder and CEO of Dating Boutique likes to start the day off in a zen-like state and then hightail it out of the house.

“I begin each day with meditation and yoga to clear my mind and gain focus. I also work outside the office and home more. I’ll work at a coffee shop, go to more networking events, or try a new restaurant. This keeps each day more exciting instead of mundane in the cold weather.”

Leave a comment and let us know your favorite ways to beat the winter blues.

Tech.Co has partnered with Arlington Economic Development to bring you news and stories from the Arlington tech and startup region. For more in this sponsored series: AED ecosystem.

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy

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