Dark, dreary skies, cold temps, and early sunsets are just some of the indicators that winter has officially arrived.
Winter brings the beginning and end of the holiday season in addition to the start of a new year. Pair these traits with feelings of isolation, and it’s not hard to understand why many people suffer from the winter blues.
For years, I’ve experienced feelings of melancholy and flat-out sadness during the winter months and never really connected the dots as to the cause until recently.
After tons of research, I realized that I was suffering from the winter blues. Figuring out the cause of my feelings was terrific as it set me on the path to finding solutions.
Via experimentation and lots of patience, I discovered several ways to combat the winter blues that are low-cost, natural, or simple to implement.
If you’re tired of feeling blah during cold months and are ready for a change, keep reading to learn how to conquer the winter blues in seven simple steps.
Pssst: Scroll to the bottom of the article for a TL;DR list.
The winter blues is the informal name for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The definition of Seasonal Affective Disorder is a temporary or seasonal form of sadness that typically occurs during the winter months and vacates at the same time that winter ends.
In other words, the meaning of the winter blues is the feeling of mild sadness you get during cold months, which is associated with less sun, more time spent inside, and shorter days.
Needless to say, if you feel sad during winter and don’t quite know why you may be dealing with the winter blues.
Yes, there are strategies for combating the winter blues! Solutions include improving exercise and diet habits to medical intervention options like therapy and medication.
The route you take to beat the winter blues can consist of natural, low-cost, high-tech, or professional methods tailored to your preferences and budget. Choose what works best for you and is most effective in turning your mood around.
Additionally, with time and the transition to spring, the winter blues often alleviate on their own.
One of the most common reasons for the winter blues is the dreary weather accompanying winter days. A simple way to combat these feelings is to spend time in the sun as needed.
Getting outside and taking advantage of natural sunlight is one the most effective and low-cost ways to turn your mood around quickly. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, which can serve as a natural mood enhancer.
If natural sunlight isn’t an option for you, light therapy lamps are the next best thing. Studies show that light therapy lamps alleviate symptoms of the winter blues as they mimic the benefits of sunlight and are available in convenient form factors.
These versatile lamps allow you to tailor the brightness, hue of the light, or session time to your preference and effortlessly combat the darkness that comes with the dog days of winter.
In addition to incorporating light into your winter days, upgrading your diet to include mood-improving nutrients in your diet can help to alleviate the blues.
Consider adding foods containing vitamins and nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and folic acid, which, according to studies, enhance brain function and counteract feelings of sadness and depression.
Try to make a list of healthy and comforting foods you enjoy and do your best to make plans to purchase and prepare them. Bonus points if the foods are in-season for your area during winter! You can even snack on tasty foods, like dark chocolate and bananas, to reap the benefits of an improved mood.
In addition to making changes to your diet, you can also incorporate supplements into your diet to fill any nutritional gaps. Using supplements makes it even simpler to include mood-boosting essential vitamins and nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B-12 into your diet.
We all know that sleep is one of the most crucial factors in feeling and functioning well daily. As a result, it’s essential to commit to solidifying your sleep routine to conquer the winter blues.
Make your sleep a priority by creating a bedtime reminder alarm and reminding yourself to wind down for bed. Remember, this is a non-negotiable time that allows you to rest and recharge for the next day.
Make sleep more inviting by making changes to your bedroom as necessary. Think about how you can make your bedroom feel like the ideal place for rest and consider making worthy investments.
Add cozy and inviting bedding and pillows to entice yourself to sleep. Try placing a nightlight or lamp with a warm temperature bulb next to your bed.
No matter how big or small, making small changes can help your bedroom, especially your bed, become a place you want to spend time and make sleep easier to obtain.
It can be hard to find ways to experience pure enjoyment during brutal winter months. Try counteracting these feelings by injecting genuine fun into each day.
The way you choose to add fun to your daily life does not have to be elaborate, but it does need to suit you and bring you legitimate joy.
When was the last time you laughed? If it’s been a while, try watching your favorite sitcom or listening to an episode of a comedy podcast. Studies show that laughter improves mood by noticeable amounts when done regularly.
If your idea of fun includes physical activity, which is proven to counteract SAD symptoms, that’s a bonus. Your ideal physical activity can be as rudimentary as a walk around the block or as challenging as a full-blown workout and has benefits in every form.
Yes, this tip is predictable, I know! But, frequently, when dealing with emotions like sadness or melancholy, self-care is the first thing to be neglected in our lives. The neglect likely stems from how complicated many of us think caring for ourselves has to be.
Feeling like self-care has to be intricate is a myth, and caring for yourself can be an underrated and often crucial step toward improving our moods.
Making sure that you are keeping up with your hygiene (showers work wonders!), carving out moments for yourself, and doing things to improve your mindset (like journaling or meditating) are great places to start.
If you need inspiration for implementing self-care in your life, check out the Danish practice called hygge. The proponents of hygge are coziness, well-being, and comfort in daily life. The goal of hygge is to take joy in simplicity and the overall feeling of contentment which should be right up your alley in winter.
With colder temps, we naturally spend most of our time at home. While spending time indoors, why not spruce up your surroundings and make your space as relaxing and comfortable as possible?
Consider switching up the furniture or paint in rooms that you spend the most time in to enhance your mood. Try adding throw pillows and a warm throw to your couch. Incorporate new room accents, like rugs and artwork, to freshen up your most frequently lived-in spaces.
Weaving personal touches through your home can make it a more pleasant place to be.
In addition to revamping your home, decluttering and organizing belongings has been shown to lift spirits as well. The act of clearing out your space by chucking old paper, donating or trashing unworn clothing, and even organizing linens can bring unexpected joy.
Boredom is a feeling that exacerbates feelings of sadness during the winter months. You can combat lethargy and fatigue by regularly keeping your brain active with interesting hobbies and activities.
Assemble a list of reliably fun or fascinating tasks and tools from which you can choose a random activity to improve your mood and encourage brain engagement.
Consider adding items like books and puzzles to your anti-boredom arsenal. Reading can help you temporarily escape your life and enter a new world. If you’re interested in exciting tasks to beat blahs and the winter blues, try playing board games or video games with friends. Playing games is a fun way to keep your mind entertained and socialize simultaneously if you so choose.
As cold months set in, a sour mood can feel like an inevitability. But, experiencing the winter blues isn’t a foregone conclusion. By utilizing tools like mood-boosting light and an optimized diet, you can effortlessly reduce the feelings of the winter blues.
Keeping your brain active, prioritizing self-care, and making appropriate changes to your sleep and eating habits will also do wonders for neutralizing the effects of the winter blahs.
Before you know it, you’ll be welcoming the bright weather and joy of spring, and your winter blues will be a distant memory.
Writer’s Note: Seasonal affective disorder can be a moderate to severe type of depression that may require medical assistance to alleviate. Treatment options can include therapy, light therapy, and medication.
If you find that your symptoms of sadness and depression aren’t letting up or are worsening, please don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist, counselor, or doctor.
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