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Taylor Burton Jan 10, 2024 8:45:00 AM 4 min read

Your Winter Survival Guide

The warmth that the holiday season brings has come to an end. Ahead looms the bitter cold of winter with its freezing temperatures and gray skies. As we trudge our way through January and February, it's hard not to fall prey to the winter doldrums. Reduced sunlight throws off your body's circadian rhythm, leading to a drop in serotonin and melatonin levels. This can lead to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and cause you to feel depressed.

We often preach the importance of mental health on Raising the Bar. Unfortunately, those long, cold, dark winter days don't do our mental health any favors. If the winter doldrums have got you down, it's time to fight back with this winter survival guide.


Clouds on the ground Garden landscape in winter


Let there be light. The biggest cause of SAD is the lack of sunlight we get during winter--in other words, a Vitamin D deficiency. Though the temperatures might be cold, you'll feel better for stepping outside to soak up those rays and breathe that fresh, crisp air. Just make sure you bundle up or else you won't last long!

If there's one too many gray days in the forecast, you can try a Vitamin D supplement or even light therapy. There are sun lamps and light boxes that can be used to simulate sunlight and offset the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. If that sounds interesting to you, learn more about it here on Mayo Clinic. 


Hydrate! You already know that drinking lots of water has all sorts of benefits. It's important to stay hydrated--but what about hydration for your skin? Cold air sucks the moisture from our skin during the winter, leaving it dry and flaky. Save yourself from the pain by utilizing lotions and moisturizers.

If you're serious about self-care, take a bubble bath! There are all sorts of moisturizing bubble bars and bath bombs to pick from. Choose an uplifting scent like citrus or a calming scent like lavender. Aromatherapy can serve as a mood booster while the warm water washes away your stress. 


Water running from a tap into a kitchen sink


Get cozy. Cozy it up! Start with your wardrobe. A solid winter coat, gloves, and boots will make venturing out into the cold far less miserable so you can soak up those sun rays with ease. Next, break out your favorite comforter, softest throw blankets, and fuzziest pillows to scatter throughout the house. Sometimes you just have to wrap yourself up like a burrito in order to get that serotonin flowing. Final step, fill your kitchen cabinets with everything you need to make your favorite hot beverage. Tea, cocoa, hot cider, gingerbread chai latte--whatever it is, there's nothing cozier than clutching a steaming mug while watching the cold world go by.

Or better yet, cozy up with the latest and greatest CLE! After all, you can enjoy many PBI offerings from the comfort of your home or office. See what's coming up here!




Pick up a new hobby. If you feel like the days are dragging and you're starting to stagnate, stimulate your brain with a new activity. We tend to have more free time in the winter since there are fewer social events and less outdoor chores to attend to. Fill that time with learning a new language or trying new recipes--soup is a must. Physical exercise is another great option to get the serotonin flowing! Try some online yoga, pick up a kickboxing class, or challenge yourself with Pilates. Or you can opt for a creative hobby; get to work on that novel, pick up some paints, or join a group that loves to crochet. The possibilities are endless!


Embrace your childhood. Don't be afraid to revisit your favorite childhood activities, especially if you have kids. Build a snowman, go sledding, partake in a spontaneous snowball fight...or maybe just stay in your pajamas all day while completely clearing your to-do list. Enjoy a movie marathon or escape to another world through your favorite books and video games. Indulge in your nostalgia!




Remember what there is to love about winter. Don't say "Nothing." Find a little gratitude in your chilly heart and think about what makes winter special. There are only certain things you can do when it's freezing out. Curl up by the fire under your softest blanket with a cup of steaming hot cocoa. Watch the snow fall while wearing your favorite sweater and warm socks. Go snowboarding or check out an ice festival if hibernation doesn't suit you. Look on the bright side, no matter how dark and long this winter might feel. There's always a bright side.


Keep a list of things to look forward to. If you absolutely abhor winter and nothing can possibly be done to make it bearable for you, then look toward the future! Mark the blessed day we can "spring ahead" on your calendar. Start planning your summer vacation. Browse upcoming events in your area. When it comes to having things to look forward to, the anticipation is half the fun! It can help pull you through those dreary winter days towards the light at the end of the season!