Six Practical Suggestions to Avoid the “Winter Blues”

January can be a difficult time of year. We’re worn out from the holidays. We’re trying to keep our resolutions. We’re trying to be better than we were last year. This year especially, we’re all a little dazed from surviving the previous year. It’s back to work and back to school and everyone is hoping to make this one “the best year yet.” But we’re now in the heart of winter. There is little daylight and even less warmth. The skies tend to be overcast and smoggy. It’s common to have bouts of depression and experience the so-called “winter blues“.

Here are a few simple, practical tips to avoid the blues and stay happy.

Six Practical Suggestions to Avoid the “Winter Blues”1. Get some sunshine.

I know this seems daunting at times, but even just five minutes a day can do wonders for your mood. Bare as much skin as you can (even your face is good), and keep your eyes exposed (take those sunglasses off!). Obviously, you shouldn’t look directly into the sun, but allowing your eyes to absorb some sunlight helps get essential vitamin D into your body.

2. Move your body.

I’m not talking exercise, just movement. Five minutes of yoga and/or stretching every day will wake up your muscles and your senses. It helps get the blood flowing and keeps your mind awake, too. If you can do 30 minutes of cardio, obviously that’s great, too, but don’t stress yourself out trying to exercise. Just move a little.

3. Drink water. A lot of water. And then drink some more.

Water cleanses, lubricates, and energizes our bodies. Aim for half your body weight in ounces every day (ie. if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces each day).

4. Do something spiritual.

Maybe you are religious and your “something spiritual” is reading scripture. Great! Read a verse a day. Maybe you’re not religious and don’t have a spiritual routine or agenda to follow. Great! There are a lot of options–journaling, meditation, prayer, chanting rituals, affirmations, connecting with nature, therapy, practicing mindfulness, etc. Doing something spiritual each day helps keep you connected and grounded.

5. Look for joy.

It’s so easy to point out what’s not going well, but intentionally look for things that are good in your life each day. If you’re feeling like you weren’t a good mom at the end of a day, ask your kids what they liked about that day or what made them happy. It might surprise you what they say, and it will likely help put you in a better mood. 

6. Express gratitude.

Find a way to note the good things in your life. Even during the most difficult times, you can usually find something to be grateful for. Gratitude can redirect your focus from all that seems wrong in life, and it has the power to uplift and inspire. You might keep a journal of things you’re grateful for and try to write down one thing every day. 

Don’t try to start doing all these things at once. Keep it simple and don’t overwhelm yourself. Find one thing (or two) that works for you and make it a habit. 

What other suggestions do you have for avoiding the winter blues?

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Kristin is an Iowa transplant from Utah. Five years ago, she and her husband wondered what Iowa had to offer them, and they’re glad they decided to find out. Going on 12 years of marriage, and a proud mom of five, she devotes herself to motherhood and homemaking. A wildland firefighter turned stay-at-home mom, she spends her days fighting off imaginary pirates, building space-ship prototypes out of Legos, and belting out show tunes with her tiny ensemble.