7 Things You Can Do to Beat the Winter Blues

5 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

Winter is a tough time of year. The sun sets early, bringing darkness more often, and the temperature drops to chilly new lows. Fortunately, if you start a search online, you can find fun activities to chase away those winter blues.

Don’t feel trapped indoors! If you’re feeling the winter blues, you don’t have to hide indoors for the entire season. You can embrace the weather and find fun ways to stay warm, cozy, and active all winter long.

1. Try a Winter-Only Activity

The next time you’re frustrated with the weather or wishing that it was summer again, why not try and enjoy the winter instead of wishing it away? While summer is warm and pleasant, there are plenty of fun activities you can only do when there’s snow on the ground.

Head outside and spend some time on a wintertime activity like snowshoeing, snowman building, or ice skating. All you need is the right gear! With layers of winter-ready clothes and equipment like ice skates, snow shoes, or cross-country skis, you can warm yourself up with a little physical activity. And if you do these activities often enough during the winter, you’ll be able to improve your skills too.

2. Get Outside Every Day

When winter arrives, it’s easy to stay inside for days at a time without noticing. You’re trying to stay warm, and there’s no real motivation to head out into the cold. But if you’re staying inside day after day, you’re going to get stir crazy.

Even when the weather is cold, getting outside at least once a day is extremely important. And walking from your car to your office doesn’t count. Instead, force yourself to get outside for a few minutes daily. Take a walk around your neighborhood, buy a coffee at a local coffee shop, or step outside for a few minutes of sunlight (even if you have to be bundled up!).

Winter’s gloomy weather can leave you feeling stuck and sad, but getting outside can counteract these feelings. You can take in fresh air and different scenery. And even moderate exercise, like walking down the street, is known to help treat symptoms of depression.

3. Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D

Still don’t think you need to go outside every day during the winter? Well, here’s a big reason to do so: you need to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D.

The sun is the largest source of Vitamin D for humans. And if the sun is covered by clouds for most of the winter, it’s important to ensure you’re absorbing whatever you can. Step outside to soak up some sun, or make sure your blinds and curtains are open all day long so you get a dose of sunlight. You can also find lightbulbs and lamps designed to mimic the sun, which can be used indoors.

If you’re feeling down and sad due to the seasonal change, you can also supplement your diet with Vitamin D pills. Vitamin D is also found naturally in some foods, like fish, milk, eggs, and fortified cereals.

4. Start a New Hobby or Project

Because you’re staying indoors much more during the coldest months of the year, winter gives you a lot more down time. And this provides the perfect chance to start a new hobby.

Ideally, an outdoor sport or hobby is the most beneficial to ensure you’re getting outside often, but there are other great choices that can be done indoors. Knitting and crochet are popular –  many people find the repetitive stitches soothing, and at the end, you’ll have a warm and beautiful garment or accessory. Woodworking, baking, and building computers are all great ways to spend your time.

Choose whatever hobby you like, and dedicate your free time to it during the winter. As you progress, you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment. You may even create something!

5. Warm Up with Hearty Comfort Food

Many people use the start of the winter season as an excuse to fill up on their favorite indulgent treats. This is partly due to the holiday season – which almost guarantees that your home will be full of sweet treats, decadent delicacies, and other foods that aren’t so healthy – and partly due to the weather. When temperatures drop, it’s natural to want to cook warm, comforting classic dishes.

To warm up and satisfy your desire for hot, comforting, and indulgent foods, take the time to cook some of your favorite foods. You can look for foods that warm up the whole house when baked in the oven, or cozy slow cooker dishes that are easy and filling. Hearty stews and soups with powerhouse ingredients are also a great choice.

6. Indulge in Binge-Watching

One way to make the most of the longer nights is to indulge in some great TV and movies. Winter means there’s plenty of time to binge-watch your favorite shows and movies you’ve been waiting to watch.

Pop some popcorn, cuddle up on the couch under a blanket, and make your way through your favorites, as well as new ones you’ve been meaning to catch up on. The winter months are a great time to get through the back catalogue of a popular show, explore a favorite director’s early work, or educate yourself with a documentary series.

You can even organize a movie night with friends, or go all out for a themed party, and create film-themed food, decorations, invitations, and more. If you’re more into the solo movie-watching experience, create a list, then ask your movie-loving friends and family for recommendations.

7. Keep Your Social Life Active

Like bears, people tend to hibernate in the winter. This means you’re likely eschewing social interactions outside of your home for the warmth and comfort of a cozy couch. But even when it’s nasty outside, you should keep up with social engagements and make time for family and friends.

Seeing your loved ones regularly will make you feel less isolated and alone. If you’re living in a new place, don’t feel like bundling up to go outside, or feel you have too much time on your hands, try to plan some social activities. You can volunteer somewhere like a soup kitchen, visit a library, or join local community events to get out and interact with others. These organizations will keep you active, and you could even find a whole new group of friends.

What to Do If Your Winter Blues Get Worse

Winter can feel endless. It’s frustrating to be stuck inside with so few hours of daylight, and the long, dark hours can really take a toll on your mental health. Talking with friends, getting outside, and making time for self-care will help.

However, if you feel like you’re isolated and alone, and can’t find a way to improve how you’re feeling, you should seek professional help. A doctor will be able to refer you to a therapist, who can offer some strategies for how to help yourself feel better. There are so many options available if you’re dealing with something like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – medication, alternative therapies, meditation, and more. It’s much easier to treat the winter blues and SAD than to live with them.

Jordana Weiss