Evidence shows that January is the time of year that most people find depressing. It makes sense when you think about it. The holidays are over, but the bills are now coming in, people head back to work or school to start the grind once again. They know the next break is a ways off. More suicides and death occur during the months of January and February than any other time of year. That’s all pretty gloomy news, but there are plenty of ways to combat the winter blues and turn it into happier hues!
In fact, I’ve come up with twenty! I’m sure you can add to the list on your own, if you put your mind to it. And just think, pondering on ways to grow the list will probably lift your mood, so you’re already working it, like a rock star. Let’s HIT IT!
20 Ways to Ease Seasonal Depression
- Exercise: Let’s get the obvious one out of the way, the one you’ve heard about a million times especially with New Year’s Resolutions. Don’t knock it, until you’ve tried it though. Exercise really does work to lift the mood. Get those endorphins flowing. In fact, those who run for twenty minutes or more at a stretch, three times a week have greater anti-depressant results than those taking prescription anti-depressants, according to the APA.
- Get Outside: It always seems counterintuitive to me that when you’re cold, you should get out in the cold. But it really does work. Just dress warmly and go out to build a snowman. If it’s really cold, throw a cup of water into the air and watch it crystalize on the way down. Admire the icicles or your breath fogging in the cold. Take pictures of snow and ice on trees; it forces you to find the beauty in the moment.
- Turn on Lively Music and Dance. It’s a great way to get your exercise and the music is a natural mood-lifter!
- If you can, pick a day to go outside when the sun is shining. That way you soak up some vitamin D. That will elevate the mood as well. If the sun isn’t out, then be sure to get plenty of foods with Vitamin D in them or consider taking a supplement. Most of the population is deficient in this very important, cancer-fighting, mood-elevating vitamin, especially during the winter months.
- Eat Some Chocolate: Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is a natural mood lifter while other sweets and carbs only give you a temporary lift before dropping you like a stone.
- Watch or Read Some Comedies: Laughter truly is the best medicine.
- Improve Inside Lighting any way you can. For instance, you can install brighter lights, with full spectrum bulbs. You can also pen up the curtains and blinds on a sunny day, or install a light box. Finally, you can simulate dawn with a gizmo that gradually turns up the light by your bed in the morning to trick your brain into thinking it’s August instead of winter.
- Wear Bright Colors/Dress Up: Today, it’s in the teens right now. This afternoon we’re supposed to get to a balmy 33 degrees. Ted plans to put on a floral, island shirt and shorts when he’s done with errands and back at home. It’s time to celebrate the tropics whether we’re there or not. Evidence also shows that when we dress up and feel like we look good then we feel better; we’re more confident and less sad!
- Diffuse Oils that are Natural Mood Elevators: Orange, Lemon, Bergamot, Myrrh, and Clary Sage are all natural mood lifters. Pick your faves and diffuse them in the room where you spend the most time wake.
- Take Up a New Hobby. Learn to paint, color, cook, speak a new language, play an instrument.
- Start a Home Project: Now’s the time to paint rooms, organize closets, clean rooms, redecorate.
- Plan a Garden: Seed catalogues are arriving in the mail now. I’m already making plans for our spring and summer gardens. I love to plant herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Digging in the dirt is therapeutic for me. And browsing through seed catalogues reminds me that spring with all its promise of beautiful blooms and scents is just around the corner. Yippee!
- Try Making a New Recipe or Two: Make a meal from scratch. Why? The goal is to do something that provides immediate gratification. With a new recipe, you conquer a new dish and get to eat the fruits, or meals, of your labor.
- Plan a Vacation: Sick of the cold weather here? Start planning a future vacation to a tropical clime or to some place on your bucket list. That gives you something to look forward to, a goal to work towards.
- Stay Warm: Being cold can make for a downer, so dress appropriately, and keep your toes and hands warm.
- Meditate/Pray: Breathe deeply and know that you are not alone. Invite peace in. Pray to God, who loves you no matter what, who always watches over you, doesn’t give you more than He knows you can handle, but is always at work to grow you into the measure of man/woman He knows you can be.
- Sit by a fire, especially with a friend: The quiet calm that the fire evokes can be transcendent. It’s also the perfect opportunity to converse and get that much needed chocolate in the form of hot cocoa.
- Get Down on the Floor and Play with your Favorite Furry Friend: A puppy, dog, kitten, cat, bunny, guinea pig, even a pet iguana all have that innate ability to make us laugh. So get down on their level and enjoy them!
- Help Others: When you know you’re helping someone else you always feel better about yourself. And, you’re making an impact on the world, changing it’s very values! We all want to make this world a better place, even if it’s “just” one person at a time.
- Socialize with Friends and Family: Getting together with those you love will always brighten your day, especially if they are naturally positive people.
Just smile and laugh. Remember, we’ve passed winter solstice, and that means the days are getting longer, brighter. That, in and of itself, is hopeful. Remind yourself that spring is just around the corner (just 69 days from now!). And remember for every valley, there are two mountain tops, no bad time lasts forever. Joy does come in the morning. Take a deep breath and be at peace. Give love, live loved.