5 Tips to Brighten Your Mood on Dreary Days

The boisterous weather is rapping on your window from outside, the world seems coated by darkness, there’s a chill in the air that nips at the nose – oh, and it’s only 4:20 pm. 

Welcome to winter in the Pacific Northwest! 

With an average of 152 sunny days per year, which mostly occur during the summer months, many locals are prone to feeling a mental and emotional funk during winter. While more severe cases may be referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), almost everyone feels the effects of the dark days to some degree so you are not alone! 

So with the dreary days approaching, we are sharing our guide to ways to brighten your mood this winter season:

  • Create Something

When the weather outside is frightful, try making something! Whether it’s baking a new recipe, playing with paint, drawing in a notebook – setting time aside to create is incredibly beneficial. In fact, it’s even been clinically proven. 

A study performed in New Zealand and published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that participants who practiced creativity every day for two weeks felt an “upward spiral of positive emotions, psychological well-being, and feelings of flourishing in life.”

Don’t think you’re creative? Think again!

This study defines creativity as “the practice of coming up with new ideas, expressing oneself in an original way or spending time engaged in artistic pursuits.” Translation: you don’t have to be a Picasso to be creative. 

So pick up a journal, make some brownies, solve a problem – whatever inspires you this winter, get creative!

In the Pacific Northwest, many hikers consider winter to be the “off-season.” For reasons like rainy weather, closed roads, and muddy trails; it’s understandable why it’s not the most popular season for getting outside. 

However, in those challenges also lie the greatest rewards! 

If you dress appropriately with rain gear and layers, the “off-season” can be an ideal time to find peaceful solitude in the outdoors. Because ultimately, with fewer participants on the trails, you have a chance to experience some of the most popular hikes around without the crowds. 

Plus, countless studies have found that spending an average of 30-minutes a day outside, disconnected from technology, can have huge impacts on your emotional and mental well-being. 

As soon as you smell the fresh air, start walking along the meandering trail, and are surrounded by towering evergreen trees, we think you’ll start feeling better. 

  • Treat Yourself

One of the great benefits to having a dreary season is that it’s an ideal opportunity to relax and recharge. We all push ourselves in daily life, so why not take a little time to treat yourself with a spa day at home? 

Start by lighting your favorite candle and putting on some relaxing music. Then, draw a hot bubble bath with some epsom salts to really release tension. Heck, it’s the winter, why not pour a glass of red wine to sip on while in the tub! 

From there, you can get as indulgent as you like! Face masks, manicure and pedicure, tea in your bathrobe; give yourself a day of pampering from the comfort of your home, and you’ll forget all about the weather outside.

  • Reflect and Recenter 

Winter is often symbolic of the end of one year as we prepare to begin the next, and this can bring a lot of mixed emotions. Perhaps it’s excitement for the new year, disappointed from the previous one, anxiety, fear, gratitude, motivation; it’s a very uniquely personal time of year.  

Which is why setting time aside to process those feelings is healthy and beneficial. Take time to reflect on the year you’ve had, and begin envisioning your ambitions for the new year ahead. 

A few ideal ways to organize your thoughts and set intentions is journaling, as well as practicing meditation and yoga. Through this journey inward, you may start finding enlightenment to your own happiness and wash away any negativity causing you stress. 

  • Go Somewhere New

When you’re really feeling in a funk, try switching your day up and go somewhere new! 

And no, we aren’t talking about an exotic vacation to escape daily life. Try something new and local. Maybe there is a coffee shop you’ve heard about but never bothered to visit. Or a cute town that your friends have gone to on the weekend yet the drive seemed too far. Maybe it’s an exciting restaurant you’ve read about online yet always seem too busy to stop by. 

Whatever has sparked your interests, winter is a great time to try it! 

This will break up your routine, toss away your boredom, and can increase creativity. Which hey, talk about bringing things full circle, uh? 

No matter if you feel greatly impacted by the season ahead or you’re seeking ways to brighten your mood all year round, try these tips and we bet you’ll cultivate a happier, healthier self. 

Image by FatCamera

Light Therapy for the Winter Blues

Brooke Jackson

Brooke Jackson is an internationally featured writer and photographer based in Seattle. As the founder of Wandering Trails Media, she specializes in travel, outdoor adventure sports, and environmental studies. Brooke also instructs for REI Outdoor School, where she finds joy in educating others on how best to get outside in a responsible and sustainable way. See more of Brooke's work at www.WanderingTrailsMedia.com