I love living in the Northeast. I would never give up the changing of the seasons. However, I’ve always had a strange romance with winter – I think the cold builds character, encourages introspectiveness and fosters a sense of anticipation and appreciation for what’s to come with warmer days. But it also… well, it also can kinda suck. As someone who is often strongly influenced by her surroundings, the weather plays a big role in my life. I may not fully suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but too many consecutive gray days and I definitely start getting weird. And I don’t think I’m alone, here.
Luckily, this whole “shitty weather = shitty mood” phenomenon is a known thing and there’s a lot of research on it. Below, I’ve taken a few tried and true methodologies and turned them into specific tips on how to legitimately cure those winter blues!
Have some tricks of your own? Share them in the comments below!
1. Get Silly
I was recently walking down the street and saw this little kid jamming the f-ck out. I mean, his mother had him by one hand, sure – but the rest of his body was like an out-of-tune-yet-somehow-rhythmic machine. Best of all, you could tell he was nothing short of ecstatic about it. Do you remember what that was like? Just being totally PSYCHED over the smallest thing and immediately expressing it? It was awesome. Weird, yes. But also awesome. So while I obviously can’t recommend you go full-child in public, I do recommend you do a little dancing every day. Doing the dishes? Why not work in a little ‘robot’? Can’t get out of bed in the morning? Audible to the worm. Just lighten up, work a little silliness into your everyday, and get movin’!
2. Let there be light!
You know what’s a bummer? Darkness. And in the winter, we tend to get a surplus of it. Unfortunately, many of us spend most of our waking, daylight hours behind a computer screen, away from any semblance of the sun. However, simply rolling up your bedroom blinds can be an easy way to bring a little happiness into your day, first thing. Allowing as much natural light into our space as possible has also proven to help us sleep more in tune with our circadian rhythms, thus maximizing our energy. If you’re still down in the dumps, look into light box therapy, which the NIH recommends for those affected by SAD.
3. Take a break, go for a stroll…
Countless studies have shown that intermittent exercise breaks from work improve mood. Personally, I would advise everyone workout in some capacity at least 3-4 times a week. But even if you don’t hit the gym daily, just going for a simple 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break can improve your mood. Now, I KNOW you’ve seen this tip on other “how to not be miserable” lists, but have you actually tried it? Or, more likely, do you just sit at your computer and google something innocuous to pass the time in between doing actual work? That’s what I thought. If you genuinely try giving this a shot, I guarantee you’ll reap some benefits.
4. CALL YA MOTHA
This woman gifted you with LIFE… so you should probably give her a ring every now and then. But really, talking with anyone who is a close family member or friend is a natural way to raise dopamine and serotonin levels. Hearing the voice of a loved one, if only briefly, can pull us out of our own heads for just enough time to provide some much needed perspective.
5. Go ahead, have a drink…
But with someone. Even though hibernating for 48 hours every weekend in the winter seems like the right thing to do, being (selectively) social is still important. So, go out for a drink with friends! And newsflash: said drink doesn’t have to be alcohol-based. I'll defer to Tasting Table's divine list of Dryuary Mocktails to steer you in the right direction. Mocktails like the carefully crafted French Lemonade from Narcissa or Grace Street's sweet-potato take on the traditional Hot Toddy will have you sipping and satisfied, sans any of the booze. Of course, there's always hot chocolate as well!