20 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues

We are less than three weeks away from the shortest day of the year and if you’re anything like me, you’re starting to feel the effects of the winter blues — or Seasonal Affective Disorder — begin to set in. Sure, we have a little distraction with the holidays, but come January if we haven’t set up some routine to break us out of a winter rut, we may find ourselves in danger of barely hanging on until spring. A few weeks ago, you shared some of your ideas for combating the winter blues, and after the jump is a roundup of some of those suggestions plus a few of my own to get us motivated to tackle the long months ahead.

  1. Wear bright colors.
  2. Change your light bulbs. I recommend Blues Busters, which produce a light like natural sunlight and cost about $7 a bulb. I started using them a few years ago and they’ve helped tremendously ease the effects of SAD.
  3. Squeeze in a daily daytime walk. If you can bundle up and get out on your lunch break for a 20-minute stroll, do it! If you can’t swing that, consider waking up a little earlier so you can catch a few drops of sunlight before work. If you take public transportation, get on one stop past yours so you can sneak in some sun before you’re stuck in an office all day and miss it.
  4. Take a Vitamin D supplement.
  5. Take St. John’s Wort. This helps ease mild depression associated with SAD, but if you’re on any medication, like birth control, make sure it doesn’t interfere.
  6. Socialize more. Organize a weekly potluck or happy hour with friends. Join an evening knitting group or a neighborhood game night. The point is to get out of the rut of office-home-bed that’s so easy to fall into when it’s cold out. Filling some of your after-work hours with friends will help you stay positive and energized through the dark winter months.
  7. Invest in some fresh flowers. A burst of color does wonder for one’s mood, and flowers don’t have to be expensive. Carnations, long thought to be granny flowers, are making a bit of a comeback (I love a bunch of hot pink ones cut shorts and kept in something unexpected, like a vintage teacup). A five-dollar bunch can last up to ten days.
  8. Two words: Winter sports. Skiing, sledding, ice skating, snow boarding are great ways to stay active during the cold months. Even if you don’t live in an area where those activities are easily accessible (or affordable), simply hiking through the snow or making snowmen burns calories and gets you out in the fresh air and sunlight.
  9. Paint your walls. It’s like taking the idea of fresh flowers to the next level. And if you don’t like the color, or if you are tired of it by spring, you can always paint over it!
  10. Whiskey. Hey, it keeps you warm and feeling good.
  11. Eat a piece of chocolate a day. Eh, why not? Doctors say a small piece of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa) is good for you!
  12. Keep the shades open. Let the sunshine in!
  13. Invest in a light box. One of our readers recommends the Philips goLITE Blu Plus, which she says has helped her immensely.
  14. Retail therapy. Help yourself, help the economy!
  15. Warm drinks: tea, coffee, steamers, hot chocolate. Yum.
  16. Lots of sex. Also, yum.
  17. Plan a spring break vacation. I’ve heard that the act of planning a vacation has more benefits than the actual vacation itself, so pick somewhere warm and start strategizing!
  18. Indulge in a facial or massage. Winter is brutal on our skin and I don’t know about you, but I get tense shoulders from wearing heavy layers and coats all day, so a monthly facial or massage through the winter months is a wonderful way to practice self-care and keep one’s spirits lifted.
  19. Try a new hobby. Winter is a great time to take up knitting, but regardless what the activity is, filling your time with something new — especially something you can do with others — helps break the winter rut and keep the blues away.
  20. Listen to lively music.