seasonal depression

5 Tips for Staying Upbeat During Winter

During the winter months, when the sun is down before dinner time and the weather is bitterly cold (or constantly raining in the case of my adopted city of Seattle), just stepping outside can seem downright unappealing. But spending more time at home doesn’t have to result in a nasty case of cabin fever. Here are a few tips that I’ve found useful for making the most of the chilly season.

Pick Up a New Hobby

Winter is the perfect time to develop a new hobby or learn a craft that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. Host a knitting night with some like minded friends. Or stay home, throw on some music, and discover the meditative qualities of crochet.

Winter’s dark stillness can make these months a great time for reflection and growth. Signing up for a class or workshop in a field that you’re curious about can be a great way to spur creativity. Or take matters into your own hands and check out the art instruction section of your local bookstore. There you’ll find texts in all different styles to guide you through the basics of anything from figure drawing, to watercolor landscapes, or pet portraiture. Then the next time your great aunt’s birthday comes around you can surprise her with a stunning likeness of her Shih Tzu Terrier.

Give Your Home a Comfort Makeover

With a few simple ideas, you can make being stuck at home something you actually look forward to. Start with a room that you regularly hang out in. Rearrange the furniture in a completely new way, taking everything off the wall and try out some new wall hangings, or different arrangements of the old ones.
Fill the air with fresh, inviting scents. Try and steer clear of artificially scented candles and incense, and look into brands that use plant based ingredients. A little cedar and pinon incense can do wonders for opening up a stuffy room and bringing the comforts of the outdoors in. When comfort-izing your place, don’t forget about the bedroom. Pro tip: If there is a single item that will vastly increase the comfort factor of a home, a down comforter just might be it.

Vitamin D

In the Summertime most of us get all the vitamin D that we need just from being exposed to the sun. During the winter months, we tend to not only be outside less often, but also wearing layers of clothes which minimize the amount of contact that the sun makes with our skin. Taking vitamin D3 supplements to make up for less sun exposure can help improve your mood and immune system, so you’ll have a better shot of staying happy and healthy during Winter’s darkest days. Most doctors recommend about 5,000 mg a day of D3, but you’ll want to check with your doctor to see what dose is best for you.

Get a Juice Habit

A friend of mine swears that he feels more energized when he starts his morning with a fresh glass of apple juice than after having a cup of coffee! Fresh fruit and vegetable juice is one of the absolute healthiest things you can put into your body, and its immune boosting properties make it a perfect addition to your winter diet. Experiment with different combinations based on what’s in season. Apple, carrot and ginger is a classic combination made of ingredients that you can find in the produce department year round. Beets are delicious in juice and give any concoction a beautiful bright ruby color. Light, sweet, and great for energy—having a fresh glass of juice is like drinking sunshine.

Get Out!

Of course, even if you’ve managed to transform your home into a castle of comfort and stocked your cupboards with hot chocolate, after months of cold weather you’re still bound to experience some seasonal stir-craziness. Here in Seattle, we’re fortunate to have a few great museums that I never seem to visit as often as I’d like. Spending an afternoon lingering in a good museum can offer the inspiration needed to bust out of the winter doldrums.

If you don’t mind spending an afternoon outside, a brisk winter hike is a great way to release mood-boosting endorphins. Keep up a good pace and once your blood gets pumping you might not even notice the cold.

Sheena is an avid beach bum and cold-weather seamstress. She has lived in the Pacific Northwest for almost a decade and has managed to suppress most fantasies of packing up the car and heading for California during the Seattle’s notoriously dreary winters.

11 Responses to 5 Tips for Staying Upbeat During Winter

  1. Up here in cold northern Vermont, we get some pretty nasty winters. And on a few occassions back in the day, I definitely experienced some cabin fever fuelled winter depression.

    The key, for me anyway, seems to be focusing on a project. Like you suggest. When I fully throw myself into a project that means something to me, the winter just flys on by. And I’m actually more inclined to enjoy it while it’s here.

    But Seasonal Affective Disorder is pretty common up here. D3 helps. As does getting plenty of sun during the summer months.

    So grab a cup of hot cocoa and cozy up by the fire. Winter’s already half over.


  2. Dan Erickson says:

    I grew up in the Seattle region and currently live in Yakima, Washington.  I still visit Seattle regularly.  I know how the long, gray winters can drag on.  Yakima winters have their share of gray, too.  I’ve found that getting outside no matter the weather does wonders.  Buy the right clothing and be willing to always go out, walk, run, bike, etc.

  3. This is true. I get out for a 30 minute walk 5 days a week . . . no matter the temperature. Even if it’s -10 with 3 feet of snow, I’m still out there for my daily walk. It really does help.


  4. Natalie says:

    Good suggestions and a nice reminder.

    I’ve lived most of my life in lower Michigan where we have predominately gray skies and short days in the winter.  I find I need to get outside often. I try to make it at least once a day. Just a 20 minute walk helps, even if it’s raining.

    I also schedule monthly outings with friends. It’s usually dinner and a movie, or a concert.

    And recently I joined a couple of  ‘’ groups. This is quite a bit of socializing for my very introverted personality, but I’m working from home now and don’t have the interactions that exhausted me when I worked in an office.

  5. Pingback: 5 Tips for Staying Upbeat During Winter | Truth Is Scary

  6. I feel like the cold weather always puts me in a mental and physical paralysis, it is so hard to want to move around and be active in your home when all you want to do is snuggle in blankets! Once I wake up, I try to keep moving (and not stop) until I’m ready to not do anything for an extended period of time, constant movement always helps you stay warm and awake! 

  7. Lena Ameri says:

    Love this list! I’ve tried most of them and they do work! Especially giving your house a makeover. When you’re spending so much time at home it really helps boost your mood when the place looks comfy, cozy, clean, and organized. I’m going to try the juice in place of my morning coffee tip! Well, maybe in addition to my coffee…

    ~Lena, Editor-in-Chief of

  8. Pingback: 5 Tips for Staying Upbeat During Winter | Blogs about Health & Hypnosis

  9. ColinDominic says:

    The above things are really helpful and these all small things only make life interesting.

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