Winter can be hard to get through. When the days seem super-short, and the sky darkens before you leave work, it’s difficult to feel as upbeat and positive as you might in the summer. Here are some simple products to give yourself a boost.
If winter’s weighing on you, you’re definitely not alone. And while you might find you need an extra boost of energy or happiness, for some people, the winter blues are far more serious. Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD) affects an estimated 10 million Americans, and experts believe millions more suffer from a mild version of it.
While curing serious cases of SAD might require a medical professional (and if you’re feeling seriously down and hopeless you should definitely talk to your doctor), there are a few things everyone can do to combat “winter doldrums.”
How Winter Weather Affects Your Mood
The winter blues aren’t’ just in your head—winter weather really does affect your mind and body in the following ways:
- Cold, terrible weather can really bring you down: It’s probably no coincidence that freezing cold days make you feel a bit more negative. A 2008 study found that while higher temperatures have a positive effect on a negative mood, more wind and less sunlight have a mostly negative effect on negative moods.
- Less sunlight can make you more tired: The winter days tend to be darker for longer. Lack of sunlight can cause your body to produce more melatonin, a sleep hormone that makes you tired. That might be why you just want to curl up on the couch under a blanket.
- Darker days can make you feel blah: One of the reasons the expression “winter blues” even exists is because you legitimately might feel more blah in the winter. Less sunlight can affect your body’s internal clock, which can leave you feeling depressed (that’s where SAD comes in). It can also cause a drop in your serotonin levels, which can lead to depression.
Let’s take a look at some products you can use to push back against the dark days of winter.
Light Therapy: Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Lamp
Since one of the biggest reasons for winter blues and SAD is a lack of sunlight, it makes sense that people who are dealing with these are often prescribed a light therapy lamp. During light therapy, you sit by a lightbox that mimics natural light. You don’t need to go anywhere to do it—you can buy one for yourself, just make sure you talk to your doctor about it first.
The Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Lamp is a terrific option. It has a simple, modern design that fits in basically anywhere and doesn’t look like an eyesore. The intensity mimics the sun at noon, but it also has three adjustable brightness settings. You can adjust the angle, as well. Because of that intensity, you don’t have to sit as close to it as you do other models. It filters out almost all UV rays to protect your eyes, and the bulbs last 50,000 hours, so basically forever.
Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp - 10,000 LUX At 12 Inches - LED Sun Lamp Mood Light and Sunlight Lamp
The Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Lamp mimics the sun's natural light and has adjustable brightness.
Make Waking Up Easier: Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock
Waking up early in the morning during winter can be miserable. It’s as dark as nighttime, so you don’t even feel like you should be awake. That way of thinking can affect your mood and energy levels for the rest of the day. To prevent this, give the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock a try.
This is a light therapy lamp and sunrise alarm clock in one. It’s clinically proven to help you wake up and feel more refreshed and energized. The natural light alarm clock emits natural-looking light that helps you feel like you’re actually waking up during the day at sunrise.
It also has two natural sounds, as well. While the light therapy lamp isn’t as strong as some, it does have 10 brightness settings and might also improve your mood.
Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation and Radio, White (HF3505)
The Philips Wake-Up Alarm Clock mimics the natural light of sunrise to help you wake up with more energy.
Aromatherapy: VicTsing Essential Oils Diffuser
It might sound weird, but breathing in the scent of certain essential oils might actually lift your spirits and make you feel a little less blah. Some studies have shown that specific oils, like jasmine, can affect things like heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function. Other scents you might want to try include sandalwood, tea tree oil, lavender, and lemon.
If you use a diffuser, like the VicTsing, you can breathe these throughout the day and night. This is one of the most highly rated diffusers on Amazon. It’s pretty and also offers great performance. It can run for about 10 hours and has a few different mist, light, and color modes you can customize.
It has a handy auto-off function, and you can also use it as a humidifier if necessary.
Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier - Premium Humidifying Unit with Whisper-Quiet Operation, Automatic Shut-Off and Night Light Function - Lasts Up to 16 Hours
The VicTsing Essential Oil Diffuser allows you to inhale relaxing scents that will lift your mood.
The Right Lighting: Cree LED Equivalent Daylight Soft White Dimmable Light Bulbs
Dawn simulating lights and light therapy lamps are great, but you also want to make sure the rest of the light in your home isn’t negatively affecting you during the winter. Light bulbs with mismatched color temperatures can make you feel down. It’s better to go with LED bulbs that give off a consistent, warm-white color.
Cree LED Equivalent Daylight Soft White Dimmable Light Bulbs are great because they’re nice and bright, and they’re also, obviously, dimmable so that you can adjust to them to the color you’re in the mood for. They’re a good price as well, so you can consider replacing any light bulbs in your home with these.
Regulate Your Mood: Nature Made Magnesium Oxide Tablets
Some say magnesium supplements can help with the winter blues because it can stabilize your serotonin and melatonin levels and help regulate your mood. Like many supplements, there isn’t a ton of scientific evidence to back this up and reports can be inconsistent. Of course, you should also always speak to your doctor before you take something new like this.
However, if you want to try magnesium, give these Nature Made Magnesium Oxide Tablets a shot. In addition to potentially regulating your mood, magnesium might help support nerve, muscle, and heart functions, as well as healthy bones and teeth.
Magnesium oxide is the cheapest form of magnesium supplementation you can get, but it causes some people to experience digestive issues. If you find it’s rough on your tummy, try magnesium citrate—it’s more expensive, but it’s also more stomach-friendly.
Nature Made Magnesium Oxide 250 mg Tablets, 100 Count for Nutrition Support
These Nature Made Magnesium tablets might help stabilize your mood when you're feeling down.
Boost Your Energy: Nature Made Extra Strength Vitamin D
It makes sense that vitamin D tablets could help with SAD or even a mild case of the winter blues, but, again, the science is pretty mixed. Some say it can boost energy and motivation, change up sleep patterns, and help lift moods. It might also boost your immune system, which could be a great benefit in the winter. After all, getting sick doesn’t have the best effect on one’s mood.
These Extra Strength Vitamin D Softgels by Nature Made are a great place to start. There’s probably no harm in testing them, but, the same as with any new vitamin, speak to your doctor first.
Extra Strength Vitamin D3 5000 IU (125 mcg), 180 Softgels Value Size, High Potency Vitamin D Helps Support Immune Health, Strong Bones and Teeth, & Muscle Function
Nature Made Vitamin D might help boost your energy, mood, and immune system.
Mindfulness: Dailygreatness Wellness Yearly Journal
Unfortunately, a bit of self-care can’t help with serious depression. However, if you just want to be in a better mood, you might want to focus on being more mindful. One way to do that is to keep a wellness journal. It can help you be more thoughtful and deliberate in your lifestyle choices. Journaling is also known to be relaxing, and a great way to fight stress and anxiety.
The Dailygreatness Wellness Yearly is a terrific option. It has everything, including guided, wellness, food, and exercise journals. It also has meal and goal planners, training tips, weekly shopping lists, healthy habit reminders, and more. It can help you be more conscious, boost healthy habits, and inspire evening reflection.
It’s a nice way to focus on yourself and set some goals, which could leave you feeling more motivated.
Meditation: Headspace App
Feeling down in the winter is often accompanied by stress and anxiety. Meditation can reduce stress, help you control anxiety, improve your sleep, and put you in a better mood. It’s relaxing, and a great way to start (or end) your day, although, you can do it anytime, anywhere.
The best thing about meditation is you don’t have to spend a lot of money on classes or go anywhere special to do it. You can meditate alone in the comfort of your home.
If you need a bit of help getting into the right frame of mind, you can try an app like Headspace. This easy-to-follow meditation app features 10-minute daily meditations, sleep meditations, and so much more. It’s a great place to start!
Plants and Flowers: The Bouqs Co.
Surrounding yourself with fresh flowers is another way to improve your mood. That might sound like a luxury in the middle of winter, but it’s definitely possible! Plus, it’s a good idea. Studies show that indoor plants might reduce stress and enhance your mood. It also doesn’t hurt that they make any space look nicer.
Fortunately, it’s never been easier to get fresh flowers or plants. On sites like The Bouqs Co., you can order any plant you want, and it’s delivered to your home.
They also offer subscription services to help you save money, and ensure you always have a fresh plant or bouquet of flowers in your home.