3 Ways to Banish the Winter Blues

December 20, 2016

The winter season can be a truly magical time. Cold weather prompts us to get cozy indoors, the holidays encourage us to spend quality time with loved ones and we get to indulge in festive treats. At the same time, it can stir up feelings of stress, anxiety and sadness. Similar to animals, humans react to the changing seasons with changes in mood and behaviour.

For instance, with less sunlight and shorter days, a lot of people tend to eat and sleep slightly more in wintertime. If you’re someone who gets a case of the winter blues, have no fear! Here are 3 ways you can boost your mood and banish those winter blues:

1. Engage in Creative Projects

In today’s modern working world, flexing your creative brain cells is increasingly valuable. New research reveals that doing creative work also makes you feel good too! The connection between creative tasks and happiness is an idea that hadn’t really been proven before now.

Researchers from New Zealand and the United States found that when individuals engaged in small bouts of creative work, they felt higher activated positive affect and flourishing, the following days after completing that creative activity.

In the study, positive affect included self-descriptors such as: energetic, enthusiastic, excited (high activation), happy, cheerful, pleasant (medium activation), calm, content, relaxed (low activation). Flourishing was described as “optimal function accompanied by feelings of meaning, engagement, and purpose in life.”

Creative work should not sound like another chore. It can involve anything from creative writing, to painting and drawing, composing or playing music, photography and dance, to cooking and baking, knitting or sewing, gardening, etc.

2. Indulge in Hygge

Hygge, pronounced “hue-gah,” is a Danish tradition about achieving intimacy and happiness in everyday moments. While it has no direct translation, it can be most closely translated to “coziness.” It’s all about creating a warm atmosphere to prompt feelings of well-being, happiness, relaxation and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

To practice some hygge, you can get snug in a woolly jumper, watch your favourite Netflix show, light plenty of candles, catch up with friends while sharing some mulled wine, etc. Studies have shown that as sunlight lessens, so do our levels of serotonin. Yet, Denmark is ranked in the world’s top three happiest countries despite being a country where the sun often sets before 4pm. Light lots of candles and help brighten things up to make the most of the dark nights.

3. Get Active

Keep moving through winter, don’t let the cold temperatures prevent you from staying active. Engaging in some exercise that you enjoy will help release endorphins. If possible, try to go to a sunny locale or plan a quick day trip. Studies suggest that even the simple act of planning a trip can deliver mind/body benefits comparable to actually taking the trip.

Make the most of your local ski-hill, go snow-shoeing, jogging, cycling, build a snowman, or take a hike through the snow. All of these activities are ideal for breaking out of the sedentary winter mindset. Remember that outdoor activities also burn up to 50% more calories than indoor ones.

Now you’re ready to banish those winter blues and start boosting your mood!

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