5 Ways To Stay Happy During Shorter & Darker Days

Everyone has a favorite season, and if you feel alive and joyful during Summer’s long, warm days, you probably view the impending chill with some apprehension. Although the science of whether the seasons affect our mood is inconclusive, there are a few things we know for sure: colder weather keeps us cooped up indoors, out of the sun, and it’s easy for that claustrophobia to lead to depression.

The good news is, snow on the ground doesn’t need to mean a three month-long case of the blues. Here are five ways to stay in good spirits during shorter, darker days.

1. Go Outside or Open A Window – If you hate being cold, or are trying to reduce your energy bills, this might not make sense, but bear with me. Keeping your house or apartment buttoned up too tight during cold weather creates stale, stuffy air. Considering that indoor air can be much more polluted than the outside, this is both unhealthy and gross. Let a bit of fresh air in, just for a minute, to reinvigorate yourself and breathe easier. It’s also known that exercise goes a long way toward good mental health. When the weather gets colder, bundle up and go for a walk with your kids. Your cheeks will be rosy in no time.

2. Grow Something – Who says your gardening adventures need to end just because summer’s over? Think about starting a small windowsill garden–just a few easy-to-grow herbs–or incorporating a few more houseplants into your decor. The greenery will help to clean the air and bring a vibrant touch of life to the heavy, dark trappings of the season.

3. Maintain Vitamin Levels – Vitamin deficiency is the fast-track to poor health, so make sure you’re getting enough. ”I ask patients to have their Vitamin D and B12 levels checked,” Dr. Drew Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and author of “The Happiness Diet” told HuffPo. A lack of Vitamin D has been linked with longer and worse depressive episodes. Maintaining vitamin levels will also strengthen immunity and help you fight off winter illnesses.

4. Eat Brain and Mood-Enhancing Foods – Vitamin supplements are just that, a supplement. Food should be your main source of vitamins, minerals, and other health-enhancing nutrients. “Food and nutrients represent fuel to our bodies the same way that when we use our car we need to fill the gas tank,” explains Diets in Review. Learn more by reading “10 Foods That Promote Brain Health.”

5. Volunteer – Along with cold weather and dark mornings, fall and winter bring us the dreaded holidays. Try as we might, it’s especially easy to get caught up in the soul-sucking consumerism and social chaos of the season. Keep yourself grounded and positive by trading in shopping time for volunteer hours. Find a worthy cause, whether it’s the local food bank or cleaning cages at the animal shelter, and donate some of your time. Chances are, you’ll find yourself feeling grateful and grounded. Check out “10 Tips For Being The Best Volunteer You Can Be.”

How do you stay happy during the colder months? Share your ideas in a comment!

Image via Thinkstock

128 comments

Sandy F.
Sandy F.4 months ago

I am always different from others, but I love winter--I feel best in winter and I overcame the issue of darkness in the far north of Alaska with a "happy light". Then I get outside and enjoy the silence of the snow covered creation, snow-shoeing with my dog (with booties) and find snow shoe hare tracks in the fresh snow. I love winter!

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney4 months ago

Nothing better then a nice cosy fireplace on a long cold winter night. Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney4 months ago

Every little bit of advice helps. Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney4 months ago

Great information. Thank you for caring and sharing.

Joel Romp
Joel R.2 years ago

this is a common issue, seasonal depression is big especially since a lot of people don't realize that is what it is. Nor do they talk to their doctors or figure out ways like this to help control or prevent it. My wife suffers from this from time to time, I just emailed her this article to help her, thank you!

heather g.
heather g.2 years ago

People who live in British Columbia really suffer because the grey skies stick around for months on end. The rainfall is 2000-2700mm a year which indicates how few clear days there are.

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim2 years ago

We can not forget the love. Volunteering is a great way of showing it.

GGma Sheila D.
GGmaSheila D.2 years ago

Longer hours of dark make me want to sleep more, not want to do much of anything too physical.

Pat A.
Pat A.2 years ago

Find things that work for you - and write them down in an obvious place for when you are exhausted and blue - as you don't think as well then - then try them out!

Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago

The attitude counts