7 Ways to Whip the Winter Blues

Don't let the cold weather get you down. Find ways to refresh your home and all your senses with color, sound and smell.


Photo by: Jupiterimages


Baby, it’s cold outside. Which makes you want (or need) to stay inside your cave, like a bear that’s ready to hibernate. While such a scenario seems cozy to most, many people are truly afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.).

Symptoms include depression, sleep disorders, and lethargy. A major factor is lower light levels in winter, causing chemical communication errors in the brain and body. We are sensitive to light and if there is not enough, melatonin is released into the blood stream, making us feel blah.

Full spectrum light bulbs help a lot (as do light boxes which mimic the sun’s intensity at noon: 10,000 Lux), but there are also many other things you can do to feel peppy indoors while winter rages on outside.

1. Use paint colors to feel happier

While it may seem to be a no-brainer to surround yourself in the lightest colors possible before your mood darkens too much, there’s actually some psychology to this. Did you know red in the kitchen will make you feel hungrier? Or that blue in the bedroom really will help put you in the mood for love? For those who work at homegreen (light green or lime, please) is great because it’s been proven to inspire concentration.

Lime Green Dresser and Retro Lamp in Contemporary Nursery

Apple Green Bombe Chest Against Chalkboard Wall

An apple green bombe chest with owl drawer pulls brightens up this whimsical nursery with a chalkboard wall.

Photo by: Erin Benedict

Erin Benedict

2. Grow plants

Another kind of green, but just as effective. Christmas Cactus flowers indoors during winter, and is super easy to care for. Jasmine is one of the first to arrive in florist’s shops in late winter or early spring, and it’s one of the most fragrant flowers around.

3. Wake up and smell the citrus

Essential oils can be potent mood-lifters. Jasmine extract is an anti-depressant that stimulates beta brain wave activity. Citric oils such as lemon, lime, and orange can also give you that extra little zing.

4. Change out your art

We have a summer wardrobe and a winter wardrobe, so why can’t our walls follow suit? Most folks have the same-sized art on their walls (framed movie posters, for instance). It should be easy enough to have a few extras in bright, pretty colors waiting in the wings to use seasonally.

Meyer lemon houseplant

Meyer Lemon

Rewarding and easy to grow, Meyer lemon (Citrus x meyeri) is prized by chefs for its intense flavor. It adapts well to growing in pots. In cold regions, shift containers indoors for winter. Keep plants in a too-small rather than a too-large pot for best growth. Most importantly, allow soil to dry out between waterings to avoid root problems. Meyer lemons offer a sweeter juice, less acid and a thinner peel than other lemons. Use it for lemonade, dropped into water or to season the rims of glasses.

Photo by: Logee's Plants

Logee's Plants

5. Play that funky music

Have you heard the saying, “music soothes the savage beast”? It’s true. Music is not only calming, it’s also revitalizing and according to research, it’s even better for your blues than a nap. Just don’t listen to the blues. Listen to classical music for a sense of power, soft rock to unwind, pop for exercise and housecleaning.

6. Reflect happiness

Mirrors are excellent at reflecting light within a room. A mirrored wall will double your room-size. Can’t afford huge mirrors? Here’s another tip: reflective ornaments such as polished crystal glass and mirrored objects placed strategically around the room will further scatter light into darker areas when your lights are on or your curtains are open.

Mirror and Chandelier Reflection

Mirror With Chandelier Reflection

A large mirror is anchored above the mantel of the dining room fireplace. Not only does it enlarge the room, it reflects the gorgeous chandelier above the dining table.

7. Keep It Simple, Sweetie: K.I.S.S. clutter goodbye

Minimal furniture lets a room breathe and stops you from feeling restricted and therefore claustrophobic. The less gear in a room, the more opportunity the light has to bounce around it and not be absorbed by it. Even something as simple as putting away a few dining room chairs, say from six to four, will help a lot.

Kitchen Dining Nook With Round Table and Green Wire Chairs

Midcentury Modern Dining Nook With Green Wire Chairs

As midcentury modern style grows more popular, many retailers are stocking new pieces that evoke the feel of midcentury greats. These chairs are inspired by classic Bertoia Knoll wire chairs, but offer a slightly more streamlined silhouette and an on-trend, emerald-green hue.

Photo by: CB2


So there you have it. Even if you’re not a S.A.D. sufferer, changing things up for the four seasons can really affect your mood for the better and will keep your interest and alertness piqued.

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