These Gloomy Weather Survival Tips Will Keep Your Spirits Up All Winter Long

November 10, 2017
A version of this article previously appeared on Style Wise.

I hate to be melodramatic, but short, dark days are hard on me. I’m tired, agitated, and self-conscious. I feel unsettled and experience mood swings. This is all relatively new for me, having grown up in the Sunshine State, but I’ve developed a few coping mechanisms to make these next few months a little easier.

And on the particularly bad days, I remind myself that the days won’t always be getting shorter! The sun will shine again.

5 Self Care Tips for Coping with Winter Darkness

1. Get houseplants.

I live in a basement apartment, so outdoor views are limited. I’ve found that my house feels a little more like a cozy Hobbit Hole when it’s full of plants. My current favorites are succulents, like Aloe, and a Cat Palm our old neighbors gave us when they moved.

It’s not just seeing green plants that calms me, I’ve made a ritual out of carefully tending to them, moving around the house, inspecting new growth, and adjusting them so they get the sunlight they need. Plus, plants filter air, making it more oxygen rich and cleaner overall. They also release up to 97% of water they take in, acting as a natural humidifier.

(Houseplants are also helpful for those experiencing burnout.)

2. Use a SAD lamp.

If the darker months mess with your mood, you might want to sit next to some artificial sunshine each day. Though not a perfect solution, light therapy can offer relief from seasonal depression if used consistently. I have mild Seasonal Affective Disorder, and this will be my first year using a lamp each day, so I’ll let you know how I feel. (I’m using this one, which I purchased secondhand.)

Note: This is by no means a cure-all. If you have severe anxiety or depression symptoms, or are having trouble coping with mood swings, see your doctor. 

3. Unplug from social media.

Heavy social media use is associated with depression and, according to this alarming article, even developers of these addictive platforms are distancing themselves from them.

Install a plugin to remove your Facebook Feed, uninstall apps from your phone, and seek out real-life connections. I use the News Feed Eradicator extension for Google Chrome–it stops the mindless scrolling immediately.

5 Self Care Tips for Coping with Winter Darkness

4. Read a good book.

Lose yourself in a narrative. For really good, therapeutic reading, I recommend memoirs, YA science-fiction, and anything else that can transport you somewhere else. I enjoyed Scott Sigler’s Generations Trilogy and am currently working through Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.

5. Be kind to yourself.

This has been the key to successfully getting through the dark months for me. It’s ok that you’re feeling tired and agitated. It’s not your fault. Breathe deeply, cuddle under a blanket, be nice to yourself.

I like to make myself a hot cup of chai each day when I get home from work. The kick of caffeine energizes me enough to finish up what I need to do for the day and the warm spicy-ness is always an indulgent treat.

5 Self Care Tips for Coping with Winter Darkness

How do you keep your spirits up when it’s gloomy out?

Also by Leah: Ginger Tea Hot Toddy

Related: Hygge–Is the Buzzy Danish Practice the Secret to Happiness?

Neuroscience Says This Is The Formula For True Happiness

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Photo: Artur Rutkowski and Danielle Dolson on Unsplash

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Leah is the founder of Style Wise, a space to celebrate, discuss, and discover fair trade and sustainable fashion. She lives in Central Virginia with her grad student husband and their super cute pet rats, Mercury and Pilumnus. Follow Leah on Instagram @stylewiseblog.


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