How to Keep Your Spirits Up During the Winter

I live in Central New York – so I totally get it. Winter can be long and boring… and cold… and dark. Sometimes it can feel defeating. Especially when late February rolls around and – yep, it’s still winter. If you live in a cold-weather climate like I do, this feeling may start to set in sometime late February but can very easily last until mid-April. That’s right, sometimes winter in CNY lasts until April.

Because winter can be long and boring…and cold…and dark, it’s really important to focus on your mental health during the season. Have you ever heard of the “winter blues?” Turns out it’s a real thing.

Seasonal Affective Disorder or (as it is appropriately nicknamed), SAD, is a type of depression that is related to the change of season.

How do I beat seasonal depression?

The good news is that seasonal depression doesn’t have to be debilitating. There are a number of different ways to combat the winter blues. Here are some medically-proven suggestions:

  1. Go outside, even if it’s cold out. Getting outside can help you feel refreshed and also supply you with some much-needed vitamin D. To read more about the benefits of going outside in the wintertime, click here.
  2. Get active. One of the best ways to combat feeling the blues is by getting exercise. Exercise is a natural method for producing more endorphins in your brain. It scientifically makes you happier! Stay active outdoors by going for a walk, skiing, snowboarding and sledding. You can even kill two birds with one stone by opting to shovel your driveway instead of plowing it (I realize this is ambitious – baby steps). If you have a strong aversion to going outside to stay active, then be sure to explore indoor options for getting your daily exercise. Look into getting a membership to your local gym or explore different fitness apps.
  3. Do things that you enjoy. Chances are, you’re spending a fair amount of time inside during the wintertime. Instead of using this time to binge-watch Netflix, recommit to one of your favorite hobbies or – better yet – try something new! Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but felt you didn’t have the time? Use these long winter nights to recommit to you! Whether it be learning to play piano or finally mastering the art of origami, there are limitless creative outlets you can expend your energy on and feel good in the process.
  4. Spend time with family and friends. It’s really easy to become holed up at home all winter long and minimize your contact with the outside world. Make a point to get out and be social. Join a club or local organization, plan dates with your friends or invite your family over for dinner. Sometimes this feels like the last thing you want to do but, afterwards, can feel like just the thing you needed.
  5. Make warm-weather plans. Are you hoping to take a vacation this summer or perhaps have a list of projects you want to accomplish around the house? Now’s the time to start planning. If you’re hoping to take a trip, use your down time to research vacation locales – this is definitely more fun than binge-watching the same show for the fifth time. If you’re planning to do work around the house, figure out what projects you can realistically accomplish this summer and start outlining timelines and budgets. Doing so will help you be ready to roll once the weather turns.

Above all else, keep perspective. Winter can be trying but it can also be beautiful. Learn to appreciate it for what it is and know that spring is around the corner.

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