How to Stay Positive During the Winter Months in Chicago

During the winter months, the days are colder and the nights are longer. People are forced to stay indoors. Combine the feeling of being cooped up and the gloomy weather, and that’s a recipe for the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Seasonal affective disorder affects about 10 million Americans and is characterized by depressive episodes following a seasonal pattern. It is caused by a drop in serotonin and tends to affect more women than men. SAD can be manifested through changes in sleeping patterns, appetite, and a general feeling of low energy. But the great thing about SAD is that it can be prevented!

Here are a few things that can help you with how to stay positive during the winter months in Chicago:

Light Therapy

Ideally, you should make time to take morning strolls to get a dose of vitamin D, which can help boost serotonin levels. But, if the weather outside is dreadful, try light therapy.

During light therapy, you sit or work near a device (called the light therapy box), which features blue light-emitting diodes that mimic natural outdoor light. For a simpler fix, just open up the curtains to let the sunlight in!

Exercise

The cold can make you want to snuggle deeper into your covers, but get your butt out of bed and exercise!

There are numerous health benefits to exercise. Not only does it burn calories and regulate your blood sugar, but it also gives you more energy and clears your mind. As Elle Woods famously said on Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!”.

Plan Winter Activities with Friends

It can be tempting to hibernate at home when temperatures are below zero, but get out there and socialize!

According to studies, hanging out with friends can improve your mood and doesn't have to cost you much, if anything. So take advantage of the holiday breaks and make plans to go ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink, try some non-touristy things to do in Chicago or better yet, take a fitness class together!

Brighten up your home and your wardrobe!

Ditch the dreary colors for brighter ones, especially when you’re starting to feel down in the dumps. Wearing your favorite winter outfit or the thought of going out to shop for a new one can help put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

Similarly, make your home a cheerful place by adding bright accents or elements that exude warmth. Scents can play a factor in improving mood, so get your favorite scented candles out or buy a room spray. Citrus scents like lemon and bergamot scents have been found to bring the most positive effect on mood and can remind you of summer.

Be Grateful

Gratefulness shouldn't just be limited to Thanksgiving but throughout the entire year. Although it can be hard to, instead of having a pity party, try to be grateful. There may be a lot of things you lack in life but you will realize that you are more blessed than you think. Changing your perspective helps you snap out of victim mentality and negative thinking.

Do you have any tips regarding how to stay positive in the winter months in Chicago? Let me know in the comments!