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3 Ways to Manage The Winter Blues

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Embracing the winter months with gratitude

This is an old picture of my dog Thor who crossed the rainbow bridge a while back. He would get so sad when it was too cold (or hot) to go on his daily walks. I thought this picture sums up how many people feel in the winter months.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is more than just the "winter blues". SAD is a type of depression related to seasonal changes that usually starts in the late fall and lasts through the winter months. Signs and symptoms of SAD can include:

  1. Feeling sad or down during most of the day

  2. Sleeping too much

  3. Low energy

  4. Having little or no energy in activities that you used to enjoy

  5. Craving carbs, overeating, weight gain

  6. Difficulty concentrating

  7. Feeling worthless or hopeless

It is normal to have days when you feel down. If you feel down for days in a row or are experiencing changes in sleep, appetite, or little interest in doing things you usually enjoy you should see your doctor. There is no way to prevent SAD, but there are things you can do to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of mood, sleep, and appetite/weight changes.

Tip #1 -Use a Lightbox or SAD Light

Light boxes are often the first line of defense against SAD. Light boxes give out a bright light that is 10 x brighter than typical lights in your house. Generally, it is recommended that you sit in front of the light box for 20 to 30 mins a day. The light boxes give out light that mimics sunlight and can boost your mood and alleviate some symptoms of SAD (

Check out this webpage from the Mayo Clinic that helps you choose a light box.

Tip #2 - Explore a Hobby

The occupational therapist in me understands the value of "occupations" (activities that are individual to each person and brings joy). For many people, the occupations/hobbies that they enjoy can be impacted by the weather. Hobbies like going for walks, fishing, going out with friends for lunch, playing golf, or working in the yard can be hard to do in the winter. Take this opportunity to explore new hobbies or interests such as: genealogy, cooking, writing your life story, planning a vacation, volunteering (writing letters, making phone calls...), or a different exercise routine (gentle yoga or tai chi).

Click here for the 10 best hobbies to beat the winter blues. Don't be hard on yourself as you explore new hobbies. The goal is not to accomplish big goals, but to find joy in trying new things.

Check out these online exercise classes that are local to St. Louis

"“I long to accomplish a great a noble task; but it is my chief responsibility to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” - Helen Keller

Tip #3 - Embrace Hygee

Hygge is a word that comes from Norway and Denmark that loosely translates to a feeling of coziness and contentment. Hygge is a lifestyle that helps Nordic people make it through the long and dark winters. The term Hygge has recently become popular in the United States.

Hygge is about creating cozy contentment. Watch this YouTube Video for more information. Here are some things you can do to help create a sense of "cozy contentment" in your home.

1. Use warm lighting (flameless candles, twinkle lights).

2. Start a gratitude journal (write 1 or 2 things you are grateful for each day).

3. Create a soothing routine that you look forward to (afternoon tea and paper, having a neighbor over each week for hot chocolate, writing letters to family members each week).

Check out these flameless candles from They come with a remote and have a timer. They can help create a cozy space.

"No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn" - Hal Borland

In closing

I hope you all are able to find some way to enjoy this winter weather. I always enjoy this time to rest and recover, but the cold and darkness can be hard. Check out these cool quotes I found about winter. Soon it will be spring!

" Winter is a season of recovery and preparation" - Paul Theroux

"Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless." - Terri Guillemets

"Winter forms our character and brings out our best." - Tim Allen

"In winter we behold the charms of solemn majesty and naked grandeur." - James Ellis

"In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move." - Henry Rollins

-Jenny, OT

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