10 Tips on How To Overcome The Winter Blues

The winter blues, along with Seasonal Affective Disorder, are both very real.

While there are a lot of things that are great about winter, such as celebrating holidays, eating baked treats, and snow days, it is also a time of year that can be difficult to adjust to, especially since it gets dark so dang early (shoutout to daylight savings time!).

If this adjustment is as hard for you as it tends to be for me, keep reading for my top 10 tips on how to overcome those winter blues! 

1. Exercise

While this tip may seem general, I promise that there’s a reason why it’s at the top of this list! Exercise is key to improving your mood and your energy levels because of the endorphins and dopamine that gets released as you move. This means that on those days where it just feels like getting out of bed is next to impossible, mustering up the willpower to get up and move your body is one of the best things you can do. 

In my opinion, the type of exercise you are doing is much less important than the fact that you are just moving in the first place! Some of my go-to activities for wintertime exercise are yoga (Yoga by Adriene is great!) and short workout videos, both of which can be done indoors and don’t require too much space. 

Another benefit of exercise apart from increasing your energy and mood is that it helps to boost your immune system, which in turn makes you less likely to catch a cold or get sick. The final thing I will say about exercise is that it is so important to develop a routine with it - not only does this make you more likely to actually succeed in getting it done, but creating a routine for yourself in whatever way you can also in itself help you to get out of the wintertime funk. 

2. Use a sun lamp

One of the hardest things about winter is the fact that it gets dark much earlier than any of us would like, which in turn makes it super easy to want to just crawl into bed and not move for the entirety of the season. Sun lamps are a great way to combat those hours of darkness. They essentially mimic that bright, summer sunlight in a way that can greatly improve your mood. 

Most companies that make sun lamps suggest using them at the same time each day, for approximately 30 minutes a day in order to reap the benefits as quickly as possible. There are tons of great options out there at various price points. I suggest checking out the results here on Amazon to find the one that will be the best fit for you! 

While I have yet to purchase one for myself, I have more than a few friends who swear by their sun lamps in the wintertime! 

3. Make plans for when the weather will be nice again 

One of my personal favorite ways to get out of the winter funk is to daydream and PLAN trips and things that I can’t wait to do when the winter is over! I’m already a huge planner to begin with, and this type of planning is absolutely no different. This winter, this type of planning for me comes in the form of researching road trips or day trips to take when the weather gets nice and restaurants I want to try when it’s warm enough to sit outside.

Doing the research on its own is exciting, but actually writing down plans, penciling in potential dates, and talking about them with friends are guaranteed to increase your mood!

4. Establish a skincare routine 

This tip for overcoming SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and the general winter blues comes in the form of self-care. I find that in the wintertime, showering at least once (but even sometimes twice per day) and doing face masks are two great forms of self-care that tend to make me feel less like a slug. Especially on days when it gets really cold out and all you want to do is get under the covers, making the effort to get into a hot shower and wash your face or do a mask will leave you feeling both clean and awake! 

This article features a bunch of options for face masks and exfoliators. However, you can certainly also find some good options by going to your local drugstore. My personal favorite face mask is this one, which is not only good for your skin but is super fun to apply - to see what I’m talking about, click here to learn more!). Keep in mind though that not all face masks might necessarily be good to apply on a daily or regular basis, so make sure you do your research and reading before buying and applying!

5. Make an uplifting playlist

During the winter, when there tends to be snow, rain, and clouds for days and weeks at a time, it can be easy to turn on the slow and sad music and get caught up in that mood. So, one conscious effort that I make to try to reverse that mood is to work on my playlists. I’ve found that making playlists with uplifting, energetic, and happy songs, and playing them at certain times of the day (when I wake up in the morning AND when I feel myself getting into that late-afternoon slump) is key to increasing my mood. 

In the event that you aren’t too into curating your own happy playlists, here is a link to one that I made a few years ago that still holds strong for me! On this tip, make sure that you identify the times in the day that you personally start to feel slumped, tired, or moody, and set alarms for yourself for those hours to make sure you get the tunes on. Bonus points if you make time for a mini dance party or singing session - those never hurt either!

6. Connect with friends

This is a go-to tip for overcoming the winter blues during ANY winter season, and it only applies even MORE as we approach this upcoming one. Make a point to text, call, or facetime at least one friend or family member each day. Take the time to catch up with one another, check-in to see how one another is doing, and even just have a laugh. 

One great way that I have been staying connected with friends is by planning monthly and weekly game nights or movie sessions.

Spending virtual time with friends by surrounding it around specific “events” is great because then you can actually have something to look forward to other than just catching up about your day or your week. In one of my recent posts, I highlight 5 awesome plugins to install on your browser, and one of them, Teleparty, is an awesome way to watch shows and movies “with your friends”. Highly recommend it!

7. Create a sleep routine, and stick to it 

One of the hardest things about it being dark for so many hours each day during the wintertime is that getting out of bed can get difficult, which can definitely be conducive to sleeping in. So, one of the best things you can do to avoid sleeping through the whole season is to create a specific routine for yourself. For example, maybe during the week you try to be asleep by 11pm and awake by 8:30am, and then on the weekends you allow yourself to sleep in a bit more (but not the whole day!). 

Setting this type of schedule for yourself is a helpful way to regulate the amount of time you spend in bed. Also, by spending less time in bed, you are probably spending more time doing productive things, which is always a plus!

8. Bundle up and get outside 

All right, I know depending on where you live, the winter months can get to be unbearably cold. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of getting outside, even if it’s only for 10 or 20 minutes each day. 

Bundle up and put on your layers and go for a quick walk (maybe listen to some music or put a podcast on) or even just run some errands. Not only is it good to get your body up and moving, but your body and your brain will also thank you for getting some necessary natural sunlight. Soak up that Vitamin D!! PS - even if it's cloudy out, still get outside, because sunlight is sunlight! 

9. Start a project

The winter months can be a wonderfully convenient time to get yourself knees deep in a project of any kind, mostly because it gives you something to do in those off hours when you’re not working or studying to help you keep your eyes open once it gets cold and dark out. 

You may be wondering what kind of project I am referring to for this tip. However, I purposely left it to be general because there is very much an endless number of possibilities for projects you can pursue! If you are not sure where to start, heading to Pinterest is always one of the first places I go to look for inspiration for new art projects. 

Maybe you want to make a collage from photos that you have collected throughout the past school year, or you have a wall in your room that could really use some color. One project that I just recently started is painting and personalizing skateboard decks. I made one as a collage with some personal memories I have collected, and another I am still in the process of painting right now.

If you’re not necessarily an “artsy” type person, fear not! Like I said, personal projects come in all shapes and sizes.

Some other ideas are to look into taking an online course in a subject or topic you are interested in, or start a “passion project” if you have a business idea that you have been thinking about for a while. Here is a great article on reasons why you should start a passion project (sometimes also interchangeably called “side hustles”) 

10. Make a movie list, and start checking them off! 

Last, but certainly not least, is to make a list of movies and/or TV shows that you have been wanting to watch and like I said, start crossing them off! I know that when it’s dreary and cold out, the coziest place to be is in bed or on the couch with hot chocolate or something warm and definitely some popcorn or yummy snacks. I can’t say I have many movies on my list yet for this winter, but a few of the shows that I have lined up for December are The Queen’s Gambit and Rake. 

These are just 10 of the many tips for overcoming the winter blues and even symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). If you’ve made it to the end of this post and you’re looking for even more related resources, be sure to check out our new Health & Wellness resources page! 

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