There’s only so much extra socks can do to battle your winter blues. Depending on your brain chemicals, your genetics, and even the makeup of the air, you may be more prone to experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD) than others. Depending on how minor or severe your change in mood is, you’ll want to talk with a doctor about your symptoms. Here are some at-home ideas you can do to brighten your mood during the darkest and dampest time of the year!
- Limit Your Caffeine
When you roll out of bed in the winter, chances are it’s still dark outside and your light at the end of the tunnel is coffee. Cappuccinos, lattes and mochas, oh my! But did you know caffeine can actually make you more tired than pepped up?
Now we’re not saying you have to completely abandon ship on coffee, but try to cut it down to one or two cups a day of just pure coffee. The super-sugary drinks will do a lot more detrimental damage than some caffeine will. Learn to take that coffee black or with just a splash of cream or don’t drink it at all.
- Go for a Hike
Feeling exhausted during those short winter days is taxing on your spirit. To feel less groggy, get up and go for a walk. Even if it’s just twenty minutes, getting your body moving and the blood pumping through your system at a faster rate will clear your head. If it’s possible, walk when the sun is the brightest and there are no clouds. The extra warmth will motivate you, and the light is great for increasing Vitamin D. There are bonus points if you take your dog.
- Set New Goals
Contrary to popular belief, winter is the perfect time to set new goals. You don’t have the distractions summer offers with all of its outdoor activities and vacations. Although you could set large goals, like losing thirty pounds or starting your own business, even small goals are worth-while.
Take advantage of the bad weather to do some organizing around your house or set a goal to workout four times a week. You’ll have fewer excuses in the winter, and by the time summer roles around, you’ll feel great about all you accomplished in a few short months.
- Start a New Hobby
You don’t have to be a craftaholic to enjoy a good hobby. When you’re selecting a hobby, think about the space you have and the budget you have to do it. It’s great if you want to start woodworking, but maybe you live in a tiny apartment and have a limited budget. Instead of purchasing everything yourself, consider exploring art classes.
Here are some cool winter hobbies that aren’t super expensive:
- Build a birdhouse and bird-watch
- Make your own soap
- Design an aquarium
- Upcycle some old items
- Purchase an adult coloring book
- Put together puzzles
- Listen to interesting podcasts
- Get into photography
- Write letters to family and friends
- Buy a Lightbox
You truly don’t realize how great the sun is until you only see if for a few short hours a day. In the winter, SAD can greatly affect how you feel, just because you aren’t getting the sunshine you crave.
If you feel down and out, it’s important to talk with a doctor about your options, but a lightbox could help. A lightbox is essentially a lamp that emits a bright light to mimic the sunshine that is nowhere to be found in the wintertime. Research your options before you buy one to see which type and style is the best for you.
- Avoid the Junk
Oh sugar, how we adore thee. This additive is one of the most abused substances in the world, especially the United States. While sugar has the ability to increase dopamine for a short period of time, it leaves us feeling low because, like with many other addictions, eating the same amount will never give your brain the same “high.” You have to keep increasing your sugar intake to keep feeding your craving.
During the winter, you probably aren’t out and about as much as you are in the other season, meaning those increased sugar cravings will result in added weight gain, which in turn can make you more depressed. It’s a vicious cycle.
Cut down on refined carbs, and start eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for your complex carbs. Your body will thank you later!
- Monitor Alcohol Consumption
With the influx of holiday parties, it can be hard to steer clear of the bubbly. Imbibe every now and then, but avoid binge drinking. It will leave you feeling washed out and horrid, as well as dehydrated, which is never good. News flash: those non-existent hangovers you had when you were 21 are about to come back to be your worst nightmare as you age. Go out, get a buzz, but keep track of your drinks to make sure you aren’t over-indulging this winter.
- Visit a New Location
Excitement does wonders for the mind, body and soul. Don’t be afraid to venture out this winter. Go explore a new city or wilderness. Being a hermit is one of the worst things you can do for your winter blues, so make sure you schedule meet-ups with your friends. Go to a new restaurant every month for dinner or try geocaching in your area on the days where the weather isn’t unbearably cold.
- Make a Mantra
Sometimes all it takes to feel better is an uplifting phrase. When winter gets you down, try repeating a phrase to yourself either aloud or in your head. If you’re stuck on a task you think you can’t complete, visualize yourself finishing the project and tell yourself you can. When the weather has you down, picture yourself on the beach or backpacking through Europe. Make your mantra something simple and inspiring. It doesn’t have to stay the same – you can always adapt your mantra to your situation.
- Enjoy What Winter Has to Offer
When winter hands you snow, make snow angels. What better way to battle with winter than head on. Snow tubing, skiing or snowboarding, and iceskating are all great winter activities to try this time of the year. If you don’t want to spend the money, wait for the snow to come to you. Public parks usually have at least one big hill, and you’ll be the star of the show with your own personal ice-luge track.
Make the most of this winter and new year by trying new things. You never know when you’ll stumble into a new passion for the winter and beyond.