Winter can be a difficult time even for people who don’t have an official diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The cold, short days and the likelihood of finding yourself housebound when the weather turns particularly nasty can all add up to depression or at least a case of the winter blues. However, there are ways to combat the worst of winter.
Keep Colors Bright
So many winter clothes are made in dark, somber colors. You’d be surprised at how much better you can feel when you don brightly-colored clothing instead. Make a point of buying scarves, sweaters, coats and other winter clothing in bright spring and summery colors to keep your spirits up. If you live in a climate where the winters are very long and dark, you may find it helpful to paint your walls yellow or other sunny colors. Renters who can’t change wall colors can try hanging pictures of summery scenes.
Plenty of Light
In addition to bright colors, be sure to expose yourself to plenty of light. Turn on indoor lights as needed in daytime. Purchase a light therapy box if needed to sit in front of for a short time daily. Open the curtains to let in any natural light that you can get. If you have a fireplace, you can enjoy fires.
One of the reason winter can feel so grueling and depressing is that it restricts outdoor activities so much. However, if at all possible, you should try to get out a little each day in winter even if only to walk around the block. Getting out can also be a way to expose yourself to more light. Even better is finding some winter-specific activities that you enjoy whether it’s skiing, snowboarding or simply walking in the snow. When the onset of winter means a sport that you particularly look forward to is possible, the winter will seem far less gloomy.
Cook The Right Food
There are two kinds of foods you’ll be likely to find especially comforting during a long winter. One is hearty comfort food like beef stews, lasagna and roast chicken. Warm, heavy food can make you feel warm and cozy on the inside as well. On the other hand, there’s colorful, vibrant and sometimes spicy food that transports you to a different time and place. For example, you might want to experiment with cooking Caribbean food. Treats like this can lift you straight out of the winter doldrums.
When All Else Fails, Escape
You won’t be awarded a prize for suffering the most through the longest winter. If you can afford it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t plan a mid-winter holiday to someplace warm and tropical. A week or even just a few days in the sun can make all the difference. If you can’t make a getaway yourself, try pretending. Get a few movies, cook some of the island food suggested above, invite your friends over and throw a no-more-winter theme party. You can even make exotic tropical drinks to add to the festivities.
Winter can be a trying time for many people, and the stress and depression that accompanies it can range from mild to severe. But with some of the above tips, you can survive winter and head into spring feeling happy and healthy.
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Carla Rogers is a family counselor who recently contributed to the counseling degree guide at TopCounselingSchools.org.