For those of us who have to deal with cloudy, dark, and cold winters it sometimes can affect our moods. It’s harder to wake up in the morning, it constantly feels dark, and you overall might just feel a little more sluggish or down. Here are a few tips for how to improve your mood and stay motivated during the winter months.
Consider a light therapy lamp
Trying out light therapy lamps (lamps that essentially mimic the brightness of the sun) is my primary tip if you are feeling down or sluggish in the winter. I would first always talk with a doctor to get his/her recommendation, but these are low cost enough to be worth a try. Avoid staring directly into the lamps (they are extremely bright), but try putting it two feet or less from you first thing in the morning. This Miroco Light Therapy Lamp is the lamp I purchased from amazon that I can highly recommend, it’s small and easy to use. One thing to note is it must be plugged in and the cord isn’t very long, so you might need an extension cord depending where you use it.
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Try a fitness “Challenge”: Sign up for a Race, 30-day yoga, or Snow Activities
Staying active is important during the winter because we tend to be more sedentary. Embracing fitness can help produce endorphins and make you feel accomplished even if you do nothing else in the day. Find what excites you in order to stay consistent. Signing up for a race at the end of winter or spring is something that you can look forward to with training, and even if you aren’t into running. Try a challenge like 30 day yoga (in studio or on your own). Winter is also a great time to try something new, like hot yoga. It’s definitely an experience walking into a hot room in the middle of 20-30 degree days (I like to think I’m on a hot beach when I’m there). Another great part of winter, depending where you live, are snow activities such as snowboarding and skiing. Consider giving them a try to give you a reason to look forward to winter.
Check in with your doctor, inquire about your vitamin levels and other vitals
During the winter you are naturally exposed to less sun, and if you are anything like me, your diet might be changing as you go through all the great “eating” holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.). If you are feeling fatigued it’s worth going to the doctor to have some blood work done to understand if you are deficient in any vitamins, or if anything else is going on with your body. I did this and found out I was low in vitamin D, and of course with less sunlight in the winter, was glad I knew to start taking more vitamins/supplements with vitamin D.
Try Out New Activities or Classes
Winter is a time for reflection since we tend to stay in more, not to mention the new year’s resolutions we make. This is a great time to explore new creative activities. Interested in art, why not try an art class? Other activities might be reading (maybe it’s time to join or start a book club?), pottery, floral arrangements, knitting/crocheting (ever see those huge chunky knit blankets? Perfect for winter). Find what you enjoy and start checking off those resolutions.
Travel (If possible)
If it is in your budget and interest, consider planning winter vacations to warm, sunny places. One of my favorite places to go is Costa Rica (it’s their dry season during our winter) but the Caribbean has other great options as well. If you can travel to Asia, winter is a great time to visit another of my favorite countries, Thailand, which has much more comfortable temperatures starting in November/December. If you can fly across the globe, look at places where your winter is their summer – for the United States winter, going to Australia and New Zealand are on my list.