The long, cold months of winter can be enough to wear anyone down, and even people lucky enough not to suffer the drawl of seasonal depression can still find themselves feeling as grey as the February sky from time to time. It’s not your fault, human beings evolved to be creatures of the sun, but our modern lifestyles and technology definitely make it a lot easier to get bogged down in depression, particularly when the mercury in the thermometer starts to drop. But worry not. Winter may get rough at times, but there are quick, easy tips you can try to elevate your mood…
Let the Light In
Seasonal affective disorder is very much a real, proven thing, and the science behind it has less to do with the cold, and more to do with the lack of sunlight during winter months. That’s why a place like Denver Colorado, despite having notoriously harsh winters, scores much higher on the happiness index than a town like Philadelphia. Despite an abundance of snow and bone chilling temps, Denver gets over 300 days of sunlight a year. The mile high city may get chilly, but it gets plenty of light, and you should try to make sure you do too. Start by maximizing the amount of natural light your home receives. Step 1? Pull open the blinds and curtains during the day. A lot of people keep their curtains closed to keep their homes warm, but if your windows are leaking heat you have a bigger issue which is simply that you probably need new windows. If your windows are properly insulated, keeping your curtains open shouldn’t impact your heating bill, but it will definitely impact your mood for the better.
Brighten Up Your Space
Getting more light into your home is important, but it’s only the first of many steps you can take to improve your living space. In addition to letting more in, you can maximize the light you’re already receiving. There are plenty of tricks you can try. Strategically placed mirrors are an easy, yet effective one. In rooms with smaller windows or windows that receive less light simply mount a wall mirror opposite of the window to maximize the amount of light the room receives. And, cosmetically, when it comes to mood, bright colors are your friend. If you’re still finding that your house feels a little dark, it’s time to do some repainting to some uplifting brighter colors. Not only will they energize your rooms and make them (and you) feel more lively, they’ll better reflect light and brighten things up whereas darker colors absorb it.
Some winters are just harder than others, and you might find yourself going weeks on end without a proper sunny day and there’s no amount of curtain pulling or wall painting you can do to remedy that. Fortunately, you still have options you can pursue to get your fix. Sun bulbs are lights you can install in your lamps and fixtures that use the same wavelength spectrum as the sun. Natural light bulbs give a pleasant white illumination because, like the sun, they the full spectrum of light unlike yellow, florescent, or incandescent bulbs. Go ahead and grab some. They’re relatively inexpensive, they last far longer than regular bulbs, they use less power and save you money, and they’ll improve your mood. With so many pros and no cons, there’s really no reason not to make the switch.
If you think your winters are tough, you’ve definitely never had to spend one close to the pole in places like Alaska which have locations that are cast in night for months on end. In these locations, sun bulbs are an absolute necessity, but they take it a step further with a light box, which is a handy device most homes could make use of. It’s a good thing to set up on a desk, or next to a chair in a reading corner. They follow the same principal as sun bulbs, only more so. They’re designed specifically to give your body the vitamin D it craves when it longs for sunshine. Because the sun has been proven to do everything from improving mood to helping regulate brain waves and be conducive toward cardiac function, a light box may be the ultimate cheat code for the winter warrior.
Work it Out
Exercise is another thing the body needs to stay happy, but it’s an understandably difficult thing to pull off when it’s freezing outside. You could always grit your teeth, brave the snow and ice, and head out anyway, but you could also get it done in your own home. If astronauts can find the time and the drive to exercise daily on the International Space Station, surely you could do the same in your living room. Set aside some space and get in half an hour a day. Don’t hesitate to jam out while you’re doing it. Research has shown music to be a key component for a better mood. And while we’re on the topic of liveliness, make sure to populate your home with plants and plenty of greenery. Low maintenance house plants are always good, and you could always try your hand at a small indoor herb garden for the kitchen.