You’ve probably heard this time of year called the "dark days". It sets the tone for the winter blues, and it’s easy to get caught up in that vibe. But as of December 22, we’re getting more and more light every day.
By February 1, over 45 minutes of light will be added to the day. It’s just a couple minutes more each day, but if you use those two minutes to focus on lightening up your thoughts and dreams, it may be just enough to keep your spirits up.
There are many ways you can lighten up your life and beat the winter blues. Here’s 11 ideas to get you started!
Spend Time In The Sunshine
Even though the days feel short, there is actual sunlight still happening! Get outside and enjoy it. Bundle up and bask in the quiet of the cool stillness of winter. Get your daily dose wherever is close and convenient for you, rather than waiting for when you have time to “go somewhere”. Just walk out the door and it’s there for you!
Focus On Your Other Senses
Light is connected to your visual perception, so if you feel there’s a void, fill it with scents, tastes, feelings and sounds. Aromatic incense; nourishing, soothing food and beverages; warm, cozy clothes and blankets; and music and sounds. BBC Radio recently created a collection of programming celebrating light through audio. It includes interviews, music, and the sounds of light–from fire, to a lighthouse, to the northern lights, featuring the actual recorded sounds of the aurora borealis by Alaskan environmental composer, Matthew Burtner.
Lighten Up With Lighting
Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash
From candles, to string lights to lava lamps, there are so many ways to add warm, soothing, dazzling light to your living space. Try one or try them all! If candles make you nervous, invest in battery operated wax candles that look very realistic without the worry of accidents. The Spruce has a great list of flameless candle options to help you find the right look for your lifestyle. (Make sure you buy rechargeable batteries to make this a more eco-friendly option.)
Let Light In
Open shades and curtains and remove window screens. It may seem obvious, but when the days are darker and colder, let in as much daylight as possible. Taking the time to remove screens not only lets in more light, but gives you better visibility to the outdoors.
If you feel like you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, light therapy using lamps that mimic sunlight can improve your mood, your vitamin D levels and your sleep. Choose from this list recommended by Medical News Today, but please consult your doctor to help you find the light that’s best for you.
Find Light Through Writing
Writer, podcaster and comedian Tracy Clayton was recently interviewed on This American Life radio show in the best named segment ever, “Delight At The End Of The Tunnel” and discussed how in the midst of a happy, successful life, she became fearful and depressed. She describes creating a music playlist (of sad songs) that she would listen to while staring out the window as an evening ritual. Then one day, after almost a year of this crippling sadness, she started to sway to the music. The movement of her body felt good. It reminded her of happier times.
Around this time she was also encouraged to ask herself if there was anything good that came out of this depression. This question led her to start writing a gratitude journal. At first she thought this would turn into a chore, but she was surprised to find out that wasn’t how she felt. “That has not happened at all. It really helps to remember good things that happen to you,” she confessed, and this exercise was shockingly effective at pulling her out of her depression.
I also started a similar practice a couple years ago on New Year’s Day 2020–well before the pandemic. My dear friend, Andrea, said she was going to start a gratitude jar and add a note to it once a week. I joined her, but didn’t limit myself to once a week. I tried to do it every day. And on New Year’s Eve, I turned all those little pieces of paper into a confetti throw down, exclaiming “more of this, please!” to the universe for my wishes for the upcoming year.
Plants And Flowers
Even if you feel like you’re missing a green thumb, bringing in a bit of the outdoors will soothe your soul. If you’re feeling lonely, having something to take care of may also give you a beneficial boost.
Try a rosemary plant–simply add water and keep soil moist! This beautiful evergreen herb has a heavenly scent that you can also use in cooking or steeping in water for a relaxing tea, and can be planted outdoors in the spring. Rosemary also has the potential to boost your mood, but read about drug interactions before including it in your daily diet.
Spruce Up Your Space
You can lighten up your space with fresh, bright paint, wallpaper or decals, artwork, curtains and rugs. Brighten up your home with colors, designs and textiles that make your surroundings feel sweet to you. (A note about grey paint which is all the rage… it has a clean, modern look, but can also give a gloomy vibe when you’re surrounded by it, so think through if grey is right for you.)
Declutter And Clean
A tidy home reduces tension. The clutter around you directly connects to your mind and is affecting your mood. When you look at it, it creates stress and confusion about what do with it, how it got there, how to keep up with it. Try one, or all of these options from Becoming Minimalist to see which one gives you the boost to start the process. Starting is usually the hardest part. The fresh, clean results, keep you going!
Another way to avoid the darkness doldrums, is to embrace it! Here are a couple ways to make the most of the longer nights.
Photo by Nelly Volkovich on Unsplash
Moonlight and starlight. Without darkness we can’t see the glow of the moon and the sparkle of the stars. Make an effort to glimpse the full moon on February 5 (Snow Moon) and March 7 (Worm Moon). If you’re lucky enough to see the magic of the northern lights, it’s a sight to behold that only happens in high latitudes during the winter. If you aren’t able to see it in person, even watching videos of this spectacle helps to tap into the secrets of nature and lightens up your vibe. You can watch a live cam from far off places like Finland, or a recording with relaxing music.
There’s nothing better for your mood, stress levels, health, and productivity than a good night’s sleep. Take advantage of the shorter days to prioritize an early bedtime routine. Start your preparation and rituals after dinner by leaving work behind, changing into your nighttime clothes, pampering your body, and focusing on relaxation. Make your room a sleep spa with all the things that make you cozy and comfortable, including clean, soft sheets, comfortable pillows, warm blankets and luxurious sleepwear from I Love My Nighty!