30 Ways to Avoid the Winter Blues: A Guide to Embracing Shorter Days

As we’re heading into the winter months, I can’t help but think about how the shorter days affect all of us. If you’re like me, living here Europe, you’ve probably noticed it too – how quickly it gets dark these days. It feels like just yesterday we were enjoying those long summer evenings, doesn’t it?

Adjusting to this change can be tough. I know for me, it sometimes feels like there’s just not enough daylight to do everything I want. And it’s not just about missing the sunshine. It’s about how this shift in daylight can make us feel a bit off. Maybe you’ve felt more tired than usual, or just a bit down without really knowing why.

Research tells us that it’s normal to feel this way when the seasons change. It’s not just us – it’s a natural response to the shorter days and longer nights. The good thing is, there are plenty of ways we can cope with these changes and even make the most of this time of year. Let’s explore some of these together.

Understanding the Winter Blues

Defining the Winter Blues

Have you ever heard of the ‘Winter Blues’? It’s a term you might come across quite a bit, especially this time of year.

Basically, the Winter Blues are those feelings of being a bit down or low that many of us get when the days are shorter and colder. It’s not unusual to feel this way when there’s less sunlight and the weather keeps us indoors more often.

It’s important to differentiate this from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. While they might seem similar, SAD is actually a type of depression that’s linked to the seasons. It’s more intense and can seriously affect how someone feels, thinks, and handles daily activities.

The Winter Blues, on the other hand, are milder. They might make us feel off, but they don’t disrupt our lives in the same way SAD can (source).

Common Symptoms

What does it feel like to have the Winter Blues? Here are some common signs:

  1. Feeling a bit low or sad: You might find that you’re just not as cheerful as usual.
  2. Lack of energy: Those shorter, darker days can leave you feeling more tired and less motivated.
  3. Sleeping issues: You might oversleep or, conversely, find it hard to get a good night’s rest.
  4. Change in appetite: Some people find they’re hungrier, especially for comfort foods.
  5. Difficulty concentrating: It might be harder to focus or you might feel more forgetful.
  6. Less social interaction: There’s a tendency to stay in more and avoid socialising.

Practical Tips to Overcome the Winter Blues

1. Maximise Natural Light Exposure:

  • Try to get outside every day, even if it’s just for a short walk at lunchtime.
  • Rearrange your furniture at home so you’re sitting near windows to soak up as much daylight as possible.

2. Stay Active:

  • Indoor exercises like yoga or pilates can be great when it’s too cold outside.
  • Bundle up and go for brisk walks or jogs. The fresh air can do wonders!

3. Healthy Eating Habits:

  • Focus on a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Try to cut down on overly processed foods, which can make you feel sluggish.

4. Regular Sleep Routine:

  • Aim for a consistent bedtime and wake-up time every day.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine, like reading or a warm bath, to signal to your body it’s time to wind down.

5. Stay Connected:

  • Schedule regular catch-ups, calls or video chats with friends and family.
  • Join online groups or forums to chat with people who share your interests.

6. Pursue a Hobby:

  • Pick up a new skill like knitting, painting, or cooking.
  • Revisit an old hobby that you haven’t had time for lately.

7. Mindfulness and Meditation:

  • Start your day with a simple 5-minute meditation.
  • Try mindfulness apps for guided sessions.

8. Keep a Journal:

  • Write down your thoughts and feelings each day.
  • Try not to be too ambitious, aim to write something – anything – rather than setting the bar high.

9. Create a Cozy Environment:

  • Rearrange your space to feel more warm and inviting.

10. Plan Future Activities:

  • Start planning a trip or activity for the spring or summer.
  • Having something to look forward to can really lift your spirits.

11. Volunteer:

  • Find local opportunities to help out in your community.
  • Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and connection.

12. Laugh More:

  • Watch your favourite comedy shows or funny videos online.
  • Read silly poems, funny stories from your childhood, or limerics.

13. Listen to Uplifting Music:

  • Create a playlist of songs that make you feel happy.
  • Listen to it whenever you need a mood boost.

14. Practice Gratitude:

  • Each night, think of three things you’re grateful for.
  • It can be small things, like a good cup of tea, a smile from a stranger or the warmth of your duvet.

15. Light Therapy:

  • Consider getting a light therapy lamp, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors.
  • Use it in the morning to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

16. Dress Brightly:

  • Could wearing colourful clothes boost your mood?
  • There is only one way to find out!

17. Break the Routine:

  • Not always easy when it is cold out but try doing something different each week, like exploring a new walking route or cooking a new recipe.
  • Notice what it is like to shake things up, just a tiny bit.

18. Hydration:

  • Keep drinking plenty of water, even when it’s cold.
  • It can be easy to overlook our basic needs when we are feeling low.

19. Limit Screen Time:

  • THough it’s the perfect weather for a boxset, try to reduce the time spent on devices before bed.
  • Lots of research agrees that screens just before sleep will impact our sleep – which will impact our mood the next day.

20. Seek Sunshine:

  • When the sun’s out, even for a moment, try to benefit from it by stepping outside.

21. Indoor Gardening:

  • Start an indoor herb garden or care for houseplants.

22. Learn Something New:

  • Take up an online course or workshop.
  • Don’t wait until making resolutions for the New Year – start today!

23. DIY Projects:

  • Tackle some home improvement tasks or try DIY crafts.

24. Warm Beverages:

  • Enjoy hot drinks like herbal teas or hot cocoa.
  • It’s a lovely way to warm up and relax.

25. Watch Sunrises or Sunsets:

  • Make an effort to watch the sunrise or sunset.
  • Notice the colours and shapes in the sky that form during these daily occurances.

26. Read More:

  • Lose yourself in a good book.
  • You know, that book you intended to read last year but it’s just gathering dust or somewhere deep on your ebook list.

27. Start a Gratitude Journal:

  • Write down things you’re thankful for each day.
  • There’s growing research to say that this can help shift your focus over time to the positive.

28. Connect with Nature:

  • Spend time in a park or nature reserve.
  • Notice what’s around you. See what it is like to pay attention to the trees, plants and wildlife.

29. Set Small Daily Goals:

  • Aim for small, achievable tasks each day. Brush teeth. Take kids to school. Do the dishes. Make the bed. Step outside.
  • This helps create a sense of accomplishment that can act as a motivator to do other things.

30. Remember This is Temporary:

  • Seasons come and seasons go – just like emotions.
  • Keep in mind that the seasons will change again.


And there we have it – 30 tips to help us navigate through these shorter, colder days. Remember, it’s completely normal to feel a bit off as the seasons change.

If you find yourself struggling a bit more than usual, don’t be too hard on yourself. What’s important is that you take care of yourself and know that this feeling won’t last forever.

I’d love to hear from you about what works and what doesn’t. Maybe you’ve got your own tips and tricks to share? Feel free to drop them in the comments below.

Lastly, if you’re finding it really tough to shake off those winter blues, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. Sometimes, a chat with a counsellor can make all the difference.

Stay warm, stay positive, and take care!

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