7 Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

Studies indicate that as much as twenty-five percent of the population suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder or what’s commonly known as the winter blues. Especially if you live in colder, northern states, winter can be depressing borderlining on debilitating. Having suffered from clinical depression for seven straight years, I can tell you that winter can be really tough on those suffering from winter-related blues.

It feels like you’re trapped in a frozen tundra and will never escape, to put it mildly. Winter used to be a tough time for me, but following the tips below has helped me to kick the winter blues to the curb and manage to almost enjoy winter. 🙂

Beating the Winter Blues

Seek Sunlight

This can be tough advice to follow if you hate winter and feel depressed on top of it. Getting outside into the fresh air – even for a few minutes a day will help. Since I’m staunchly opposed to weather under thirty-five degrees, I’ll often seek out other forms of sunlight to bask in, such as sitting in our bay window during its peak sunlight hours or packing up the kids and heading to the conservatory that we have in the cities. The warm air in the sunlit-filled greenhouses and the smell of fresh flowers and trees will help to boost your mood even if it’s thirty below.

Eat Well

A diet rich in green, leafy veggies and other whole foods is key to combating sadness in depression, in my experience. Try to eat healthy soups and salads, lean, grass fed meats and nuts and legumes.

At the same time, work to keep sugar, flour and processed foods to a minimum. The same goes for your beverages; drink lots of pure water (add fresh-squeezed lemon to spice it up) and herbal teas, and avoid overindulging in sodas, flavored coffees and other non-natural beverages.

Get Moving

You don’t have to belong to a gym to get a good workout in. Walk in your neighborhood if it’s not too cold, take advantage of a class aired on television or a workout CD, or make your own workout program right in your own home. We do lots of walking, hiking and biking in the summertime, but since I’m not a winter fan, my winter workouts consist mostly of free weights, a good calisthenics routine and weight-bearing exercises such as push ups and leg lifts.

This is a DVD series I used to workout to regularly. I sold it in a garage sale years ago and SO wish I wouldn’t have:

Winsor Pilates Basic 3 DVD Workout Set (Basics Step-by-Step / 20 Minute Workout / Accelerated Body Sculpting)

Here is an awesome kick-boxing series that will get your energy up big time.

BILLY BLANKS – TAEBO 3 Pack DVD

Watch What You Feed Your Mind

Many people don’t realize how very much negative books, TV shows and movies affect the mind. If I’m having a down day I can often trace it back to reading too much online news reports or having watched a TV show with too much violence or negativity. As such, I weigh very carefully what I allow into my mind. We don’t watch any of the popular movies or TV shows that many people find “exciting” these days because of the inordinate amount of violence and negativity in them.

Instead, we watch historical documentaries or fifties and sixties television reruns that are filled with light-hearted humor and only very mild violence.

Recommended Reading: The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs

Beware of Negative Nellies

Some people go around spewing grumbling and complaining everywhere they go. This is not a good environment for you to be in, especially if you suffer from the winter blues. If you’ve people in your life that thrive on grumbling and complaining, keep contact with them to a minimum – at least during the winter months. If the negative Nellie (or Norman) in your life is somebody you can’t get away from, sit them down for a gentle heart-to-heart about how depressing their constant complaining can be and ask them if they’d consider trying to be more positive and practice an attitude of gratitude.

Practice Gratitude

Which leads me to my next piece of advice, practicing gratitude. When you feel the winter blues setting in (and even before you do) make it a habit to practice gratitude. Make a list of things you are thankful for and practice saying “thank you” more to people around you for the little things they do. Remember that every good thing is a gift and that you aren’t owed anything by the world.

Give Back

I can’t think of anything that helps me have a positive outlook on life more than giving to others. Volunteering at your local food shelf, caring for babies at a Crisis Nursery Center or bringing meals to a shut-in are all examples of things you can do to make giving a habit in your life. There’s something about loving on those less fortunate that magnifies your blessings in your own mind.

If you suffer from the winter blues, don’t give up hope. Take your health into your own hands – seeking professional advice if need be – and take your life back from winter sadness.

Do you suffer from SAD or the winter blues? If so, how do you stay strong during the winter season?

 

12 comments

  1. Aaron says:

    I think the lack of sunlight can be a huge contributor to this as you say. My wife has a sun lamp that helps out quite a bit – and does that for a period of time every morning.

  2. Well, ironically moving to California cured me of any SAD but I’ve been battling depression for 3+ years, so win some, lose some. 🙂 Seriously, though, I do remember how particularly long winters could really affect me. These are all great tips, but I particularly love “watch what you feed your mind” and “be aware of negative nellies”. We are literally sponges. I know that limiting my time with negative people and feeding my mind positive energy makes a huge difference, whether I’m SAD, depressed or not.

    • Laurie says:

      “We are literally sponges.” So true! Glad to hear you’ve found help in watching what you feed your mind too. It makes a huge difference for me as well!

  3. I used to get a mild case of the winter blues, but I don’t much anymore because I follow many of the tips you list above. I think the main thing that helps me is exercise – there’s nothing better to boost your mood than to get your body moving. I also take supplemental vitamin D during the winter months.

    • Laurie says:

      I hear you on the exercise. For me, it doesn’t even have to be anything intense. Just lifting some weights and doing some stretches will do it for me.

  4. I hate the winter (I’d gladly move to Florida, but the Mrs. is attached to NJ). So I’d say I definitely get the winter blues. I try to open the drapes and get more sunlight in the house, but I think I need to try some of your tips. Eating well and exercise are on my agenda anyway. I also have a bad habit of watching the TV news during the day, and that’s a huge source of negativity. Finding reruns from the sixties would be much better.

  5. My wife deals with the winter blues. One of the things that we do is try to plan for a vacation in the winter time to break up the long winters. Normally if she has something to look forward to, especially if it’s a warm beach somewhere, that seems to help.

    I’ll definitely be passing on these tips to her!!!

    • Laurie says:

      Hope the tips help, MSM!! Glad you guys take the time to schedule a vaca in each year. I think that helps a lot. Just getting out of the frozen tundra into warm and sunny – even if it’s only for a few days – can make a huge difference.

  6. We live in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, so dealing with the winter is a major strategy in our daily lives. Winter is great until about January 5th for me. Life slows down and it feels great to relax at home in front of the fireplace. But then January gets here, and it’s dark all the time and get me out of the house! That’s usually when I turn my laundry room into a golf driving range, and start dreaming of opening the family cabin again. We read alot in the winter, and own downhill and cross country skis, skates, snowshoes to get us outside. My wife wasn’t a natural outdoors person before she met me, but like she said recently, “There’s never been a time my mood hasn’t lifted after we’ve done outdoors activities together.” That is our motivation to keep bundling up and heading outside, and in fact, we’re about to go out for a hike in the nature preserve behind out house right now. Then finally, when we can’t bear it anymore, 50 degree weather comes back, and we’re driving to the lake cabin again looking forward to a beautiful summer. Bill @ Wealth Well Done

    • Laurie says:

      That’s a powerful testimony, Bill!!! We live in MN too so I totally get it. The winters are SO long. I am an outdoors person – in the summer. 🙂 Not a big fan at all of winter sports, only because I can’t stand the cold weather. Luckily, this year has been phenomenal so far! Thanks for stopping by, Bill!

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