Four Creative Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Seasonal blues can start as soon as the weather takes a turn. Try these tips before they get you down

Credit: Flickr /jaypeg21

During the darker months, stay active and find creative ways to banish the blues

Dreading another season of rain, sleet, and snow? These tips for beating the winter blues will raise your spirits

The “winter blues” are a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Signs and symptoms include decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, increased need for sleep, and weight gain.

The winter blues can be mildly annoying or completely debilitating.

These tips apply to the mildly annoying cases of the winter blues. If you’re struggling with serious depression, fatigue, or feelings of hopelessness, you need to talk to a doctor or counsellor.

Treatments for serious cases of SAD include light therapy, prescription medications, and talk therapy (or a combination of all three).

4 Creative Ways to Banish the Winter Blues

1. Be aware of how you react to the holidays. Okay, this first tip isn’t exactly the most creative way to beat the blahs – but it’s important! “The winter months are dotted with emotionally intense (and often expensive) holidays: Thanksgiving, Halloween, Remembrance Day, Christmas,” says Vancouver-based writer Sarah Davies. “It’s easy to get overloaded with social obligations, family commitments, ceremonies, etc.” It can be worse if you live far from family members – or you’re estranged from them. Being conscious of how you react to these holidays is one of the first steps to improving your spirits.

2. Burn the candle at both ends of the day. Since the winter blues may be caused by hormonal changes brought on by reduced sunlight in the fall and winter, the solution for some is simple: stop wallowing in darkness! Light a few big fat scented candles at breakfast and dinner; the ambience and warmth will cheer you up. Look into light therapy – reading next to a SAD lamp or natural light for just 15 or 30 minutes a day can dramatically improve your mood and lift your spirits. Get outside when the sun is shining, even for a quick walk around the block.

3. Try something new – like kayaking or ice climbing. In Women on Water: Kayaking at Deep Cove, Lydia Millett describes what it’s like to kayak in Deep Cove, North Vancouver. She pushed past her comfort zone and went kayaking on “Dress Up Night” – the women wore stilettos, pearls, long gloves, and fancy dresses. One of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to try something new – get fresh, oxygenated blood flowing though your veins! Try a winter sport such as ice climbing, pond hockey, or ice fishing – and share your story with us.

4. Start a creative circle. Are you a blocked creative? Maybe you dream of writing a bestselling novel or painting a nude for your living room. Maybe you’re a sculptor or poet and you didn’t even know it. How do you come out of the cold dark closet? By taking a night or weekend class, or reading a book like The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Don’t tackle it alone – I joined a “Creative Circle” a couple months ago. We discuss a chapter of The Artist’s Way every week, and focus on finding unique, refreshing ways to bring more happiness and fulfillment into our lives.

Don’t let the winter blues get you down. Rise up, find your source of light and warmth, and tell us how you did it!

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen was born in Vancouver, raised in Saskatchewan, educated in Alberta, and enlightened in Africa. She currently lives in Vancouver – back to her roots! This full-time writer created the “Quips and Tips” blog series, including Quips and Tips for Money and Love.