Managing the Winter Blues: Improving Your Mood When the Weather’s Frightful

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year–for some.  For many, it’s the most challenging time of the year. Between obligations, managing life, holiday stress, and reflecting on a year that may have been less than what you hoped for, some people struggle during this last month of the year and through the rest of the winter months as well.

Sometimes, what people often referred to as the winter blues can actually be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that strikes during the winter months. Doctors believe that the disorder is caused by a lack of sunlight that occurs during certain times of the year, which can ultimately affect someone’s mood and energy level.

Other factors that can cause the blues around this time of the year can be financial stress, juggling too many responsibilities, remembering a loss that you experienced during this time of the year, and the list goes on and on.  It’s tough for someone to join the world in being cheerful when they may be suffering in silence.

Be mindful, however, that a case of the blues, or even SAD, is very different than someone experiencing clinical depression.  For long-lasting symptoms of depression (e.g. sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities), please visit a psychiatrist and a therapist.  Long-term clinical depression requires careful attention and treatment, and it’s not something that will improve by implementing a few simple tips.

However, if you just feel sad from time to time and you think you have a case of the winter blues, here are a few tips that may help you feel better and enjoy some of this joy and cheer everyone is talking about.

Enjoy a girls’ night out. Time with your girls is just energizing.  Even if you think you don’t have the time, try your very best to make the time. Having a good time by laughing and enjoying some good food and a drink or two is just what you need to release some stress and kick the winter blues in the butt.

Try light therapy. You can actually purchase a sunshine supplement light that is specifically designed to help improve your mood if you are suffering from the winter blues. Buying one of these lights may be just what you need to lighten your mood.

Buy a few plants.  Some studies do indicate that having houseplants in your environment can leave you with cleaner air, less stress and a better mood.

Exercise. I hate to be cliché, but moving your body releases endorphins that can definitely help you feel better.  You don’t have to take a 90-minute boot camp class (although, go for it if you can).  Just go for a 30-minute walk or dance around your home.  Every little bit helps.

Write a letter. Sometimes our sadness and stress is connected to a grievance we have with someone we care about (or even someone we don’t care about).  If you can’t (or won’t) talk to that person right now, just take pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and let it out.

Pamper yourself. We hear this all the time, yet how many of us neglect to do it?  Get a massage; get a manicure; take a bubble bath; try to sleep in.  Do something that will make you feel relaxed, rested, and special.

Say “no” more often. Do you have “yes” syndrome?  If so, it is time to seek help.  It’s okay – actually, it’s more than okay – to say ‘no” sometimes.  You cannot be everything to everybody and trying to do that will ultimately burn you out.

Cut back on sugar. I love sweets… a lot, but I also recognize that they sap my energy.  Sure, I feel great right after I eat it, but the next thing I know, I feel like I need to take a nap.  Focus on healthier snacks, and try to avoid using sugar as a “pick me up.”

Drink more water.  We often feel down and exhausted simply because we are dehydrated.  Drink up.

Get outside more. Sure, there is less daylight during this time of the year, but we could do more to take advantage of the daylight that we do have.  Take a walk during your lunch break, or just go stand in the sun for a few minutes.  It makes a difference.

Do what makes you happy. Women often want to please others, even to their own detriment.  Try putting your own needs first and I bet you will never look back.  It’s hard when you are a mom, but if you make yourself happy, I guarantee that your kids will be happier, too.


Martine Foreman is a freelance writer and lifestyle blogger. To follow her crazy journey as a busy mom, wife and honest chick from Brooklyn (now living in the burbs), check out her personal blog, CandidBelle.

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