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5 Tips to Stay Positive During Dark Dreary Days and Cold Winters

person cheering the sunrise

It's tough to stay positive when you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. And, then get stuck in a windowless work environment. 

Or when you're experiencing weather like we're having as I write this - dark, rainy days for more than a week.

Shorter days and dreary winter weather can bring us down. There are even some of us that suffer from a type of seasonal depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder or the milder Winter Blues. Please see your medical professional if you think you are experiencing depression - for it can be treated.

Research suggests you can change your mood to help you feel better on these dark, dreary days!

Here's how:

1. Listen to Uplifting Music and Stories

You know how your brain can sometimes get stuck on the last song you played before you shut off the car? Well, let that be something fun and uplifting. Instead of listening to the news during your entire morning routine, switch it up.

Play some uplifting music just before you arrive to work (or start work, if you're working from home). 

My friend, Steve Gamlin, starts his morning routine by asking Alexa to play his favorite hard rock he dances around the house opening blinds.   

Or maybe you'd rather listen to an uplifting story? How about NPR's Story Corp? (also available on the app store). Or the Good News Network?

One of the uplifting podcasts that I tune into periodically is the Daily Boost.  It's quick and sure to change your mood.

Please share with me how you use music or stories to change your mood. 

2. Get 30 Minutes of Daylight Every Day

Do you find it harder time to get out of bed in the winter months? You're not alone.

Part of the reason may be because we're not getting enough sunlight. The sun's rays provide so many health and mood benefits.

Sunlight provides essential Vitamin D to keep us healthy. And, there's a relationship between very low vitamin D levels and depression and other mental disorders.

Sunlight also helps us to regulate our sleep patterns so we go to sleep easier - and wake up more refreshed.

And all it takes is getting 30 minutes of bright light exposure each day. Maybe that's a brief walking break outside in the morning or during your lunch time.

Can't get outside? In this article, I also share how to use therapeutic bright light therapy.  

How do you structure your day to get more bright light?

3. Get Lost in a Hobby

Do you find your job and family responsibilities to be overwhelming? Stressful? We all feel that way at times. 

So, be sure to balance that with something you do, just for you, like practicing a hobby. 

Do you have a hobby? If not, think back to a time when you did. Remember how time would just fly when you lost "in the zone"? And then feel accomplished in the end?

So often we say we don't have time for a hobby. But, instead of turning on the screen, why not invest just 15 or 20 minutes a day into something fun - for you.

In a recent episode of my podcast, Energize Your Life, Brian Wansink shared his secret for what he calls "re-creation". In this episode, Brian how he experiences passion, joy, and happiness by simply committing to play his saxaphone for just 20 minutes a day. You can watch the interview HERE.

Can you spare 15 or 20 minutes a day to do something you really love to do? Don't have a hobby? To spark some ideas, think back to something you used to love when you were younger. 

Back when I was a teenager, I sewed a great deal. And, I've gotten back into it recently.  Over the past few years I've reupholstered a double chaise lounge chair, sewed a couple of quilts, made some holiday tee shirts for the grandkids, and even made some clothes for me. And, what a great feeling of pride when I finish a project. 

4. Hang Out with Positive People

Do your weekend and holiday commitments include family members that bring you down? Or maybe it's the people that you work with that drive you crazy.

Maybe you can't do much about that. But, when it comes to your friends...the people you hang out with...choose those that are positive and fun.

In addition to being fun, positive people tend to practice healthy habits such as exercise, choosing healthy foods, and knowing how to destress. And, the good news is that you don't have to live in the same town as you do. 

Three of my closest friends live across the country from me. And, we connect by phone during our commutes. One relationship goes back 30+ years!

What about you? Do you have positive, uplifting friends? And, if not, why not? Try (it's also an app) to find people who share your passions - whether it's running, going to the theater, or playing cards. 

5. Repeat Positive Affirmations

You may not realize it, but we all talk to ourselves and provide constant commentary on what we observe. If you listen in, you're probably more likely to spout comments of doubt or negativity.

Things like: "What was I thinking?", "Oh, I shouldn't have eaten that...I have no willpower", "I better get my act together or I'm going to get fired." 

If you want to feel better, you'll have to start thinking better. Even if you don't believe it right now, start repeating positive messages to yourself. 

These simple positive messages, called mantras or affirmations, can help to counter-balance that negativity that often flows from our brain. 

If you want to stay more focused at work try, "I am clear-headed and focused. I'm on target to achieve my goals."

Trying to lose weight? Repeat, "I enjoy healthy foods. I love to walk." I know...these might sound silly at first, but you'll eventually start to live what you repeat to yourself. 

For more information on music and mantras, read THIS BLOG.


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