BRING IN THE LIGHT
When the days become shorter and darker, you know it’s winter in upstate New York again. Waking up and going to sleep in darkness can begin to feel draining after the gloriously warm and bright summer and fall seasons. It can be difficult to keep spirits high when the sun takes its retreat, and a chill constantly pierces the air.
Here are a few simple ways to inject that brightness back into your life, and make it through those cold, dark months.
Get Outside Anyway
Even though it may not be tempting, spending time outside no matter the conditions is always a good way to encourage positive emotions. Bundle up, grab your headphones, and take a walk outdoors while listening to your favorite music or podcast. Walking every day, no matter how briefly, is a great way to get your blood and endorphins flowing. Being outside, even in dreary weather, will also help your circadian clock and levels of melatonin, which stabilize energy levels as well as help you to sleep better at night. Not only is walking good for your physical health, but it’ll give you a little boost of energy to keep you going through the day.
Use a Light Therapy Lamp
Those who have endured those harsh winter months before may already know that having a therapy lamp can help to add a little light back into your life. Therapy lamps are small and inexpensive lamps that simulate sunlight and encourage the release of serotonin, which is the “feel-good” hormone. Turning on a therapy lamp for just thirty minutes a day can increase happy feelings and make you feel like there is light in the winter after all.
If you can’t afford or locate a therapy lamp, there are other ways to make your space lighter, whether that be with string lights, a regular lamp, candles, or a salt lamp. Salt lamps are said to help stabilize mood because of the negative ions it can produce. With the right lamp, this may help keep your serotonin levels at a higher state.
See the Sunrise
A great way to remind yourself that the sun still exists is by seeing the sunrise during the winter. I try to do this once a winter, and it helps me to remember that the light will return again. It can be super fun to do it either with a friend or alone, and an excellent way to start the day. Pick a morning to wake up super early and bundle up. Get a coffee en-route to your sunrise viewing area, whether that be your backyard or a local sightseeing spot. As you watch the sunrise, try not to focus on anything else. Enjoy seeing the sun and know that it will be shining bright soon again.
Move Your Body
We’re all guilty of spending too much time sitting, whether that be working or relaxing after work in front of the TV. Moving your body for just thirty minutes each day can seriously improve not only physical health, but mental health as well. Keeping your body moving during the day releases feel-good hormones, increases energy levels, helps your immune system to fight off sickness, regulates hormone levels, and lowers stress.
Find Something That Makes You Happy
Finding a hobby or interest that can be done indoors is also a great way to keep motivation up during the darker months and to distract you from the dark. Try knitting, painting, drawing, singing, learning a new dance, experimenting with a new recipe, etc. Even if you aren’t particularly talented at these activities, pick something that’s fun for you. Remember, this is for you, so no one else has to know if you’re no good at it!
It’s easy to lose motivation during the colder months, especially in snowy upstate. But if you employ at least some of these strategies, the time should pass by with just a little more ease. So make the best of this winter, because before you know it, the clouds will part and it will be spring once again.