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How to Overcome the Winter Blues

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It’s February.  The holidays are over.  The month of January may have been the most difficult  – possibly dreary cold or dreary, rainy weather (yes, even those of us in Florida experience these days and weeks)!   And this starts to affect our mood, and you think, “okay, now what”???

I used to go a little “nuts” starting right after the holidays, and it lasted mostly into March …. sometimes longer.  I would get this overwhelming depressed mood – the “doldrums”, “stir crazy”, “Spring fever”; a yearning for more fun things to do, an almost unsettling feeling.  Now, I know what we all call– “the Winter Blues”.  It took me years to realize what was bothering me.  I would go “stir crazy” on Friday afternoons working in an office, all cooped up. I had thoughts of throwing a rock through a window to get fresh air!!!!  (Don’t worry, I didn’t do it… honest – I really didn’t!) 

Stressed woman looking unhappy.

I also recall, several years ago, I had an office sales job in a pleasant enough work environment.  It took me a few weeks to realize it, but something was missing, and I felt “antsy” like I wanted to run away and not come back.   I felt extra “cooped up”, and I would go stir crazy after lunch.  And then I realized it, I had no window near me – and no window to look outside.  Yup, I was working in a “windowless” work space! I felt trapped, confined, and like I would suffocate. Yikes, it made me crazy sometimes.

And then, a few years ago, when I began working from home, instead of moving my work office to a spare bedroom that was somewhat darker, I chose instead to work in a space in our living room right next to a big, open – you guessed it – a big window!  I FINALLY knew better, but it took me years to figure it out! 

Happy Young Businesswoman Talking to Someone on her Mobile Phone While Relaxing Inside the Office with Legs on her Desk.

“Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) contributes to a lot of the depression or long lasting blues that we may get in the winter time.  Unlike the winter blues, which may last for a couple weeks, SAD may last throughout the winter months.

The Mayo Clinic states that “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons – SAD begins and ends about the same time every year.”

According to this article by the Mayo Clinic on SAD, symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

These are some of the things that I have found personally work for me:

Get Some SunNot only are you getting Vitamin D, but it improves your mood.  Winter days are shorter and darker than other months, and people spend less and less time outdoors.  Sometimes I just sit out front in a chair and get some fresh air for 15 minutes.

Get Out with Family & FriendsThis is a big one for me.  I have to make lunch plans with my daughters or my girlfriends, or do something social every other week.

Consider Candles, Scents and Aromatherapy:  For me, I have a “Scentsy” burner as well as candles and lots of plug ins.  I work from home, and I learned that it has to smell good and refreshing.  Good smells equal positive feelings which really helps me.  If you are in an office, they probably won’t let you light a candle but maybe bring an air freshener for your desk.

Lighting:  Make sure your work space or the area where you spend most of the day has good lighting and/or a window.  Open up the window shades as much as you can – let the natural light shine through.

SAD Sun Box of Lamp:  This is a lamp designed to give you more indoor light and help those of us specifically suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.  A friend suggested I buy one, and although I haven’t yet, I think I will look into this!

It really has taken me years to realize that what I experienced (and often still do experience) is the “winter blues”, but I am glad that I now take the small steps listed above to help myself beat the doldrums. 

And, we always have the spring and summer to look forward to!!  Thank goodness, right?

The most important thing any of us can do is recognize that we are not feeling our “normal” selves.  It is important to take proactive steps to feeling better.  Similar to issues seeming worse at night, even small issues can seem enormous when we are down in the dumps, so it is important to be kind to ourselves, take care of ourselves and recognize when we need additional support.  

field of blooming sunflowers on a background sunset

Your Friend for all seasons,



Clare is a 57-year-old fun loving Italian-American self-proclaimed “Jersey Girl” who believes, “Life ain’t easy street. Life is one of those crazy little city streets, complete with potholes that could swallow your car.” With one foot planted in fun and the other planted firmly in her Christian faith, Clare enjoys making people laugh while helping them navigate life’s “crazy little city streets”. Clare has raised two girls (now grown young adults) with her husband, Michial, Clare is ready to take on the challenges of making new friends through her blog, Life Ain’t Easy Street. With an aim to entertain while addressing topics important to women, Clare’s focus on the positive power of good stories, good friends, inspiring women, and strong faith will have you looking forward to reading the next post. Clare is a freelance writer who lives a real life in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

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  • I can totally relate. I get this every winter!!! Sun helps, but its not always an option when you live somewhere with crappy weather haha. I started taking Vitamin D and it seems to be helping. I also need to check out that SAD lamp you mentioned, great idea!

    • Clare says:

      Right – some people can’t get to the “sun” in such cold and/or hard winters! I keep hearing wonderful things about Vitamin D -thanks for sharing that – and although I haven’t tried a SAD lamp – lots of people really love them and say it improved the winter blues!

  • Joce Deer says:

    Full of good advice. This has happened to me and my partner the last two years. We started using one of the lamps this year and it can be a big help. I also try to be conscious of getting outside in the sun at every opportunity! Connecting with friends and talking about it has become really important for me in the winter. Thanks for sharing!

    • Clare says:

      So glad the lamps helped – I must try myself! Right right – I love to get outside too but I must remind myself to do this more in the winter months! Thanks for sharing – very helpful! 🙂

  • It has been mid 70s-80s in Austin this last month so luckily, I haven’t been having the winter blues. These are great tips though! Vitamin D is definitely important, a lot of people forget about that.


    • Clare says:

      I am glad you mentioned the Vitamin D – hear it really makes a difference. I am so glad it has been warm where you are… and our winters (here in Florida) are usually not too bad as opposed to some other places…. so I am quite fortunate!

  • linda spiker says:

    Great tips. Living in California, we never get the winter blues. But I can imagine!

  • Kari says:

    I definitely picked my office because of its big windows!

    • Clare says:

      Yes, yes, having window has worked wonders for me… although I have been in work situations where I didn’t have a choice… and that’s really been brutal! Thanks for sharing!

  • Anna Palmer says:

    I too suffer from sad. When I lived in vt I had a “sadellite” which j shone on my face 20 minutes/day. It energized me. Now I live in Denver. The sun helps a lot. You have some great tips here.

    • Clare says:

      I have never heard of actually the “sadellite” – thanks for sharing that! And I am glad this had proven helpful – glad you are now living in “sunnier” weather! 🙂

  • candy says:

    I had this problem in Alaska when it is so dark all the time. Sunlight and tanning beds helped.

    • Clare says:

      Wow, I have read and heard about some seasons being quite “dark” in Alaska – that must have been so, so difficult! Thanks for sharing your comments and thoughts! Very helpful!

  • Liv says:

    An important topic! I get blue in the winter but haven’t crossed to SAD yet.

    • Clare says:

      So glad it hasn’t gotten too bad for you Liv! I surely hope the above suggestions help… and Spring is almost here…. finally! 🙂 🙂

  • Karen Dowd-Hansen says:

    Yes, Clare, thank you for this post! We get all of our rain for the year in November and December, sometimes into January (like this year). I am an ultrasound tech, and so I work in a dark, windowless environment. Winter is depressing! We really do need to overcome the desire to hibernate, and get out with friends and family, especially when the sun is shining. I can thank you for a wonderful evening just a week ago! Now, I have to look for one of those sun box lamps 😀

    • Clare says:

      Oh goodness, Karen, working in the “dark” environment would be tough for anyone! I know that would be a tough one for me! I noticed I have gotten better these past weeks because I have had some friends’ birthday celebrations and other outings which have helped! I want to try the sun lamp, too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • I try to keep busy in the winter. Having two young kids helps. We go out a lot like to zoos and museums.

    • Clare says:

      That’s wonderful, Heather, and having two young ones keeps you so busy and active. And it sounds great that you get them out for outings and you are getting activity and fresh air! Thanks for your tips!

  • I also recall, several years ago, I had an office sales job in a pleasant enough work environment. It took me a few weeks to realize it, but something was missing, and I felt “antsy” like I wanted to run away and not come back. I felt extra “cooped up”, and I would go stir crazy after lunch. And then I realized it, I had no window near me – and no window to look outside. Yup, I was working in a “windowless” work space! I felt trapped, confined, and like I would suffocate. Yikes, it made me crazy sometimes.

    It’s so interesting how that works, I loved that part! I work right by my window and it really helps to ground myself and just feel more human when I am on my computer all day!

    I love this, great post!

    • Clare says:

      Oh goodness, as you can see from above – this has happened to me before… I would get antsy especially after lunch like you… I would get that “cooped up” thing and I got antsy too and felt trapped! I am so delighted you work by a window now, too – it really does help! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  • Eloise says:

    I live in MN, so I know quite a few people who have SAD… some of which are my best friends and have moved to Cali because of it! BUT they say they miss MN very much… Maybe I’ll show them this post and all the tips you provided so I can talk them into moving back : )
    Great post!

    • Clare says:

      That’s so cute, Eloise, I miss my friends that have moved away, too! I grew up in New Jersey and loved growing up in a small town and had so much fun in the winters…. as a kid…. but no thanks now! Glad you liked the post!

  • Kari says:

    Absolutely! I always make sure to open all the blinds in my house to let in the light because without it I feel myself getting depressed even if it’s only been a few minutes. Definitely need that sun whenever possible!

    • Clare says:

      Yes – the first think I do Kari (after I make coffee) 🙂 🙂 is open up all the blinds… and I am so so thankful that in our home now – the living room and main areas are bright and open!!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • I meant to write a post on this year! You did such a good job on it. 🙂 Such a huge problem for so many and many don’t recognize that it is an issue. Thank you for sharing.

    • Clare says:

      Thanks so, so much Heather! And don’t forget Vitamin D which I left out and lots of other readers brought to our attention and for that I thank them, as well as other suggestions! I recognize this as a problem and I am middle-aged and it took me years to realize I suffer from this!

  • Jenn Slavich says:

    Sitting behind a computer most of the day I can totally relate to this. I try to remove myself from my office and get out and walk around outside when the weather allows it. I double up on my vitamin d and I make sure I continue to eat a veggie full diet. Those all seem to help keep me from sinking to far into the sad pool. Glad you wrote this. People really need suggestions on how to cope with this!

    • Clare says:

      Getting out in the fresh air is so vital, Jenn, and I bet that helps! Glad you mentioned the Vitamin D and I have to make sure myself I am getting enough of that, too!

  • Yes, I need sunlight. I also love the heat and I don’t do so well with ongoing unpredictable weather, such as 35C one day and 17C the next. Going from shorts and summery weather to needing jumpers just doesn’t work for me. But here in Cambodia winter as many of us know it is practically non-existent, so definitely no winter blues for a while!

    • Clare says:

      Wow – Cambodia! Glad you don’t have winter…. I grew up in the Northeast and really I don’t miss it – but still need to use some of these suggestions to help myself with the “Winter Blues” even in Northeast Florida!

  • Lezley says:

    This is so awesome! I definitely suffer from this, and it can be so annoying. This is so helpful

    • Clare says:

      Lezley, so glad you found this article helpful… and I found so helpful all the readers’ suggestions, too, with this dilemma! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Brandy says:

    I suffer from this every winter in NH, and work hard every new winter to overcome it. Environment, windows and my Happy Light really have helped. Working from home full time allows me to work harder at overcoming this as well!

    • Clare says:

      I work from home too, and having a big window next to me has helped a lot! I am from the northeast and I know it can be tough! But you sound like you are “prepared” for it and trying to overcome it – thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Oooh – love this … and I can totally relate! I live where it snows in the winter and work from home … if I’m not careful, I can stay hunkered down inside my house for a whole week without realizing it. I can tell a remarkable difference when I force myself to get outside to get some sun for even a very short time. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Clare says:

      Right right, me too…. even though I don’t live in snow anymore…. I work from home. I have to remind myself to “get out”…. and could feel this “creeping up on me” earlier in February when I caught a bad cold and hadn’t been out. Sun and fresh air help tremendously – thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Angie says:

    I swear January and February are the hardest months for SAD. I like these tips-thanks for sharing!

  • Cara says:

    Great tips, Clare! I can definitely see how this negatively impacts people and I’ll even admit I seem to be moodier in the winter-time when I can’t get out in the sunshine. Thanks for sharing!

    • Clare says:

      Thanks for stopping in Cara and glad you find the tips helpful! I am definitely in a worse mood in the wintertime! Spring is here! 🙂

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