Three Practical Ways to Fight the Winter Blues

The winter blues are upon us—the days are shorter and the dark nights longer; the cold dampness permeates through the thick layers of clothing deep into our bones.

How can this battle ever be won?

Every year we naively think it won’t happen to us again and yet it does (for me it hits hardest in January/February.) We need to get smart and plan ahead for the inevitable and when it comes we’ll be prepared with a plan. We don’t need to fall victim to it if we apply the following practical ways to fight the winter blues: prepare a means to distract, devote time to something worthwhile, or indulge in a delight.

DISTRACT

Music & Movies :
Often we choose music or movies that reflects our mood. During the dreary winter months it is better to choose something that will distract you into a better state of mind. Select music that makes you want to dance and a movie that makes you laugh out loud. Sing, play an instrument, and express yourself in a creative way.

Surroundings :
Create an atmosphere around you that lifts your spirits and makes you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Fill your space with things that will make you smile, or even laugh, when you see it. Have comfy blankets and pillows to snuggle up with on the couch. If you’re a little crazy like me, keep your Christmas tree up till after Valentine’s Day redecorated with hearts and bows—it will cheer up your place and keep the spirit of the season going through the months of bill-paying!

Lighting :
People in northerly climates need more artificial lighting in winter to counteract the hours of darkness and lack of sunshine. By making energy-efficient choices in the purchase of light bulbs, using higher wattage and differing styles can really have a big impact on your mood. Put up strings of LED white lights on the upper edge of the walls along the ceiling or above cupboards to fill the room with ambiance. The lights will draw your eyes upward and illuminate the dark, depressing spaces distracting you from your negative thoughts and feelings.

Playing:
There are lots of ways to plan fun. What a better distraction than to play!

  • Include other family members and/or friends in board games—plan a game night once a week/month.
  • Use Wii or Xbox 360 Kinect to actively play a wide variety of games or sports.
  • Play favorite games online with others—word games, board games, interactive games, etc.
  • There are hundreds of games that can be played on a Nintendo DS or other hand-held electronic gaming device—your imagination is the limit.

Playing games can be a lot of fun and if you include others, it becomes a pleasant social interaction as well as a positive mental lift.

DEVOTE

Devote time and energy to something specific—work on a project, plan to spend time with friends, take a course and learn something new, or help others who are in need; these are all ways to shift the focus to a worthwhile activity.

Projects:
Pick an exciting project that will be energizing.

  • Crafts—cross-stitch, crochet, knit, quilt, scrapbook, sculpt, paint, sew, etc
  • Write—write, write, write (journal, articles, stories, poems, e-book, etc)
  • Jigsaw Puzzle—colorful, cheerful, and challenging is important.
  • House—redo a room (paint, redecorate, etc), de-clutter and reorganize some neglected space.

Friends:
Find a cozy coffee shop with a fireplace and spend a couple of hours each week with a friend. A good visit with a dear friend over a delicious cup of coffee or tea can be very refreshing for the soul. If you enjoy the outdoors, plan to meet a friend for a walk and then stop for a hot chocolate and a warm chat after. The key is to find ways to connect with friends and talk about things that are meaningful to both—this will help lift the lonely feelings that come with the winter blues.

Courses:
If you are self-motivated and enjoy the comforts of your own home, take an online course. There are lots to choose from whether you participate in a special interest workshop or work on completing your degree.

Local Community Centers or Colleges often offer adult learning courses on a number of subjects that might be of interest. Is there something new you’ve wanted to learn for a long time? A skill you’ve wanted to master? If you plan ahead, the winter is a good time to keep your mind active in a successful endeavor.

Help Others :
This is a great time to help the less fortunate by volunteering at a Soup Kitchen or Homeless Shelter to serve a hot meal or assist with shelter during the cold winter months. Sometimes helping others can put a new perspective on life. If your community doesn’t have enough aid for the homeless, and you have the time to do it, come up with a plan and present it to the local churches or community groups to see if they want to help out—one night a month designated to provide a free hot meal, or shelter on the coldest nights of the winter. There are many different ways to get them involved if you have some creative suggestions and are willing to help out wherever you can.

How to Insulate Your Windows

Uses of Essential Oils

DELIGHT

Find ways to pamper yourself. While this will be unique to the needs of each individual, even the smallest effort is a necessity. There are ways to bring comfort into your life at little or no cost—a warm blanket, a hot drink, a special scent, a favorite recipe, or a hot bath. Each of us craves that one thing to look forward to in our day or week.

Warmth:
In a cold climate, it is imperative to find ways to stay warm. A warm house or apartment is possible to achieve with some simple adjustments. Not everyone can afford to make big changes in this economy so less costly choices are imperative. One thing I used to do was to put plastic on the windows in the winter to keep out the draft and put a rolled-up blanket on the floor at the base of the door. If you have expensive electric heat, buy energy-efficient radiators that will cut your hydro costs in half. Make sure you have warm, cozy clothes that make you feel good. There’s nothing worse than coming home to a cold house and fighting to stay warm all evening—it is a waste of good energy that could be used for something better.

Scent-ilate:
There are so many scents that lift a person’s mood…experiment and find the one that works for you (and your family of course!) There are essential oils that can be mixed to provide just the right fragrance for what your needs are. Sometimes something as simple as simmering orange peel and cloves in water on the stove can permeate the whole house with a warm and cozy aroma.

Food & Drink:
A favorite food or drink has been a way to bring comfort on a cold, wintry day since the beginning of time. Everyone has their favorite comfort food for when they’re feeling down. If they’re unhealthy choices and you feel guilty about eating them, find a healthier version full of flavor and enjoy! There are lots of cookbooks or online recipes for healthier versions of the old favorites.

Vacation:
If you can afford it and have planned ahead, this is a great time to take a vacation to a warmer location to get away from the cold weather entirely. If you can’t afford it, plan a stay-at-home vacation. Look for things throughout the year that remind you of your favorite vacation spot and in January, after Christmas, decorate your home to become your vacation oasis. Who says your home has to meet the interior design criteria for that season. Express yourself! Make it what YOU want it to be. Your friends and family might think you’re a little strange at first, but the idea might catch on more quickly than you think.

There Is Hope!

There is hope for people who experience the winter blues. Become aware of your own personal yearly cycle—when you experience your greatest lows and when it is the hardest to stay positive. Think about what would make you feel better during those times and then plan ahead so getting through it will be easier. Each of us has one or two things we can do to help ourselves through this hard time of year. Find a distraction to deflect the dark feelings, devote time to things that help lift the spirit, delight in the things that bring comfort and relief. Remember this too shall pass and the winter blues will be but a memory for another year.

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Comments 51 comments

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA

You have present the topic very well and offer great solutions! I also think that some people are better off living in a warmer climate. ~voted up!~


FloBe profile image

FloBe 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

daisyjae...The West coast is getting a cold spring this year. Just this morning we had hail and freezing rain and then slightly warmer in the afternoon. I find myself yearning for some bright skies and sunshine! I've spent most of my days the past month visiting my mother in hospital so it has kept my mind off the grey skies somewhat. Glad you stopped by!


daisyjae profile image

daisyjae 4 years ago from Canada

This is a great helpful hub on how to beat the winter blues. I will use your tips. Especially since I woke up to fresh snow this morning and its the first day of spring! Feels like winter will never end


FloBe profile image

FloBe 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Good to see you again, Rolly! I'm glad you are doing well. I have never been ice fishing but I've heard it can be fun. Our weather here doesn't get quite cold enough for that--we get more grey skies and rain. Blessings to you as well.


Rolly A Chabot profile image

Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

Always seems to be a challenge to avoid the winter blues and yet all we need to do is get out there and before long they are gone. Cabin Fever in the north was common and ice fishing was away to solve it.

Blessings and Hugs from a little east of you


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I am so sorry to hear about your father passing. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. I have not had to live through that yet.


FloBe profile image

FloBe 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks James,I'm glad you found these ideas helpful. It seems this winter is particularly harsh where we live. My father passed away this week so now this time of year is even harder. Thanks for stopping by and blessings on you and yours.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I completely agree with the excellent advice you offer on this page. Thank you for this most excellent and needful Hub. Well done! :D


FloBe profile image

FloBe 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Glad you stopped by snakeslane, hope you get your mouse working soon! Looking forward to getting to know another coastal gal :) We have so much snow that I can't get out of the house right now...which is unusual. More time for HubPages!


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

So many good ideas here FloBe, I will come back. My cordless mouse is spluttering on it's last bit of battery life and I forgot to buy some, darn! Regards, snakeslane


FloBe profile image

FloBe 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

It seems that this winter has been particularly difficult for many in many parts of the world, for one reason or another. I guess we need to count our blessings and look at what is good instead of focusing on the extremes in weather that people are experiencing and coping with. I'm glad we can encourage each other in this.


thebluestar profile image

thebluestar 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

Hey Flo, great hub, some inspiring tips. I shall bookmark this to remind me what I can do in times of bad weather. Thank you for sharing


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Ingenira...thanks for reading and commenting...I live on the westcoast where it rains most of the winter but this year we're getting more snow and colder weather. Around this time of year it is important to find ways to cheer the spirit and reach out to others.


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 6 years ago

Tonnes of great idea ! I stayed in Canada before, and I know how the long winter affect one's mood. These ideas will surely help many to get out of their depressing shell.


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

katiem2...thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found something useful to help you feel better during the winter. Our winter is colder and darker than usual and I'm having to find ways to lift my spirits as well. I'm of the opinion (tongue-in-cheek of course!) that we should all hibernate during winter with the bears :) I think they've got a good idea there!!


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Awesome, I love the light one. Living in Ohio I so miss the sun in the wintertime. I've notice although it's been really cold and we've had a good bit of snow we've been blessed with a lot of sunlight! It makes a big difference. Great help for ways to fight the winter blues. I feel better already! :) Katie


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

bettybarnesb...thanks so much for your encouragement. I'm glad you came by and commented. Blessings to you for the year ahead!


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Fossillady...thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found something useful here. The movie "Pay it Forward" was released in 2000--perhaps people were distracted with the turn of the century events!


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

These are some uplifting ideas that really work. Thank you for the concentrated gathering of many ways to fight the winter blues. I especially like the one about leaving the Christmas tree up and redecorating it. How simple and yet so uplifting. The "Pay it Forward" video was awe inspiring. When was that movie released? I think many missed the boat on that one. I believe it's a must see for us all! God bless!


bettybarnesb profile image

bettybarnesb 6 years ago from Bartlett, TN

FloBe: Beautiful hub! I can tell that you are a very positive person and because you are, you will always be blessed. I enjoy your writing style.


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

onegoodwoman...thanks for your comments. I'm finding myself in need of a lift from winter blues so the reminder is always good!

Wish you all the best in 2011 wherever you go.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

I found myself, so needing this..........

I can cook, and every large city has a "soup kitchen" or related need..........

Thank you, Flo for reminding me.......I am myself wherever I may go!


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

BobbiRant...it is hard sometimes to rise above the circumstances and see the brighter side of things, so anything that works is worth the effort. Hope you have a good winter this year.

DeGreek...Yes, it is an unusual winter this year and it has come early in most places. So, I'm glad this was of help to you.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

With all the snow we have been having lately, this is very timely, thanks :-)


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

Lack of light is a big one for me. I love the bright sunny days we just do not get enough of in winter months. But the snow is pretty too. Good hub, good suggestions.


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Erin LeFey...I'm so glad this hub lifted your spirits. I hope it helps you make it through the winter! I've been feeling it already as well and it usually doesn't hit me till Jan/Feb. I'm working on some of these ideas too!


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 6 years ago from Maryland

FloBe, you lifted my spirits just reading this hub! Its been so cold here the past few weeks, I've felt like hibernating! I'd forgotten about the lighting trick, and you had so many other great ideas - I feel rejuvenated!

Have a wonderful holiday!


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

oceansnsunsets...I think anyone living with shorter days and longer darkness needs some help to make it through and stay positive. This year it seems to be starting early and the winter more severe. So, I'm glad the information is useful to others.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

FloBe, this is a much needed hub! I know of many that struggle with the shorter and darker days. I can feel it too, and have to fight those "down feelings" sometimes. It really seems to be connected, and these are great ideas. Thanks for sharing :)


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Nell Rose...I'll check out the video and see what's wrong. I'm glad you found the ideas helpful.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, what a great hub! I enjoyed all of your ideas, and I loved the videos, the first video seems to have been stopped? but what great ideas, thanks nell


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Happyboomernurse...I have yet to watch that movie, but I love the premise it proposes. So often we feel like we have to pay someone back for a good deed and it's not always possible but paying it forward is always possible. It puts us in a mindset to look for others in need and ways in which we can help them.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 6 years ago from South Carolina

What excellent and creative ways to beat the winter blues and to pamper oneself and other family members.

The movie, Pay It Forward, is one of my favorites and a great reminder that putting our focus on doing good deeds for others is also a great way to improve our mood.


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

giselle2323...glad you stopped by. Yes! Fun is an excellent way to get rid of the blues. "Laughter does good like a medicine," has been proven correct over and over again. Enjoy :)


giselle2323 profile image

giselle2323 6 years ago from Peterborough, Ontario

Wonderful Hub and timely! We need to find joy during the months that may bring us down. I love your suggestions, especially maybe dusting off your wii or xbox and having some fun. I think we take the notion of having fun for granted. Laughing is a sure cure to beat winter blues. Thank you for sharing.


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

acaetnna...I'm glad you found something helpful here. I have to remind myself of these things when I'm in the midst of the blues so I don't get too discouraged. I am already looking forward to spring! yikes! Good thing for HubPages :)


acaetnna profile image

acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

Great hub and excellent advice. I tend to suffer from winter blues so I shall try some of your suggestions. Thanks.


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Journey...thanks for stopping by and commenting. Hope you can use some of these ideas!


Journey * profile image

Journey * 6 years ago from USA

This is thorough and fantastic advice FloBe. Thanks for sharing!


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

rwelton...you're right that helping others takes your mind off your own troubles. There's an elderly lady who is manning the Salvation Army kettles this year in our neighborhood and she's doing it to take her mind off of worrying about her son who is dying of cancer. I am inspired by her and how she helps so many as well as herself in this!


rwelton profile image

rwelton 6 years ago from Sacramento CA

great post - volunteering is great because when you are thinking about someone else's problems you are not thinking about your own. Helping someone with real problems diminishes your own.

rw


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

carrie450...I'm glad you found the info useful...let me know how it goes! Blessings.

warm_whispers...thanks for your comment...hope you feel the warmth, too!

richtwf...it sounds like you're pretty good at staying positive...thanks for your encouragement. Blessings.


richtwf profile image

richtwf 6 years ago

An excellent hub with lots of wonderful tips and advice to keep those winter blues away!

If we fill the space around us with things of positivity then that will reflect back into us and make us feel better and more immune to those winter blues.

Cheers for sharing and God bless!


warm_whispers profile image

warm_whispers 6 years ago

its so useful info .. and iam sure in ur place now so cold so just feel my hug :)


carrie450 profile image

carrie450 6 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

Excellent tips FloBe. I will bookmark so I can refer to it often, thanks


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

prairieprincess...I'm so glad you found this information useful. We've got to do all we can to counteract these feelings and we are all different so having many choices gives each person something that will work for them--perhaps a mixture of several options! Thanks for stopping by...blessings


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 6 years ago from Canada

FloBe, this is beautiful, and contains such excellent advice on how to counteract these feelings that seem to overwhelm us ... thank you ... this is very encouraging!


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

onceuponatime66...how does the flashlight help? It is an interesting thought I will have to explore further. Thanks for your kind words and I wish you all the best in fighting your winter blues! Blessings


onceuponatime66 profile image

onceuponatime66 6 years ago from USA IL

I hear ya on the winter blues! What great ways to get happiness. I was told that if you hold a flash light on your forehead before bed for three min when you wake up it's way better in winter.


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Scarlett My Dear..."planning self-comforts rather than drowning in the blues" is a wonderful way to put it. I'm trying to prepare for the winter ahead as we've already started to have the cold that was predicted for this year. We can all use a big HUG! Thanks for your insight. Blessings.


Scarlett My Dear profile image

Scarlett My Dear 6 years ago from Missouri

FloBe! Awesome!

What great suggestions for so many! You're right, planning self-comforts rather than drowning in the blues is more than helpful ~ it is downright essential to our happiness. Those blues can last much longer than even we expected. Giving your mood a jump start is like giving yourself a great big ol' hug!

Thanks, FloBe ~Scarlett

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