4 Easy Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

4 Easy Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

If there’s one thing we’re certain of, it’s that the winter blues are real. That bummed out feeling we get when the days are shorter, the nights are longer, and the weather is colder impacts many areas of life: work, relationships, exercise, and general motivation. Many of us feel like there’s nothing to be done about it, that the only option is to hunker down all winter and emerge once spring comes around.

But there is a lot that can be done to combat this seasonal sadness, and not just things you can buy, like sunrise alarm clocks or literal rose-colored glasses. Switching up your schedule to prioritize things like productive mornings, exercise, and spending quality time with loved ones will help with the bummed out feeling we get during the cold, dark months of winter. Read on for our favorite tips and tricks for dealing with the dreaded winter blues.

1. Make the most of your mornings

Unfortunately, time isn’t on our side in terms of daylight hours from December through February. But if you can drag yourself out of bed early enough to exercise, enjoy a cup of your favorite a.m. beverage, and get ready for work, you’ll be thanking yourself.

Working out in the morning has a ton of benefits that can be especially helpful for dealing with the winter blues. Not only will you have a better attention span throughout the day, but you’ll also establish a healthy mindset first thing, which will encourage you to make healthier decisions throughout the day. Exercise is great for mental health, so getting it in is key, especially during this time. Exercise boosts both our dopamine and serotonin levels, making us happier and less stressed.

It’s important to choose an exercise that you enjoy, even if it’s not the most rigorous or intense. Prefer yoga and dancing to HIIT and weight lifting? Do you, baby! By starting your day with something you enjoy, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.

Being able to have even 15 minutes of me-time to just unwind in the mornings is also key to battling the cool-weather sadness. You can sit with yourself, and do something you like. Perhaps you just want to drink coffee in silence, or maybe you want to read the news or listen to a podcast. Giving yourself the time to unwind before your day starts will give you a sense of calm and control over your day (and your life!).

While exercising and relaxing may seem impossible to do in the mornings, it’s really only about 50 minutes. 30 minutes of working out, and 15 minutes of chilling out (with five minutes to get your bearings in between, of course) is all you need to start your day off right. And since you won’t be packing so much into the evenings, you can make room for yourself to go to sleep earlier.

2. Deliberately enjoy the daylight

We talk about mindfulness a lot on the blog. One of the best ways to deal with the winter blues—even when it’s super duper cold out—is to spend some meaningful time in the sun every single day. We all know how important it is to take breaks during the workday, so taking a 10-15 minute outdoor walk between noon and 2 p.m. is a no-brainer.

Not only will it increase your productivity and help you maintain your vitamin D levels, but the exposure to midday sun will actually make you feel happier thanks to that increase in serotonin levels.

3. Maximize your weekends

While these tips can feel a little obvious, it’s important to note that oftentimes during winter, weekends are the only days we have to spend quality time (1) outdoors, (2) with friends, and (3) in the sun.

If you’re not a fan of the cold, try to at least take time for a 15 minute outdoor walk. Your body will warm as you’re moving, and you’ll get the positive effects of being outdoors and in the sun.

Spending quality time with loved ones is, er, difficult right now, and we’re only going to have to get more creative when the temperature drops. Perhaps you could have a bonfire, go on a winter hike, or simply sip hot coffee on the porch. If you have a “pod,” invite your pod members over for a movie or game night. Whatever makes you happy and joyful!

4. Eat healthy, eat together

Winter isn’t exactly known as the season of healthy eating, but studies show time and time again that eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and good fats is good for not only your physical health, but your mental and emotional wellbeing, too. A recent study actually found a link between consuming fruits and veggies to increased self-confidence, self-worth, and overall happiness. There are many theories as to why this is, but many health experts believe it’s because of the high amounts of mood-boosting vitamins and antioxidants fresh produce contains.

Studies also continue to find that eating meals with others makes you happier. The results of a 2017 Oxford University study “suggest that communal eating increases social bonding and feelings of wellbeing, and enhances one’s sense of contentedness and embedding within the community.” The more we eat together, the more time we spend together (obviously). This means that we also tend to get along more, communicate better, and have happier relationships. We’ll drink (eat?) to that!

Although these tips can seem like common sense, the winter blues can hinder our everyday sensibilities. Remind yourself to do things that make you happy, and getting through winter won’t be all that tough!