Every winter, the cold and the dark threaten to sap your joy. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression related to changing seasons. The majority of sufferers experience symptoms from late fall through early spring, when the cloudy days and long nights cause energy levels to plummet and social withdrawal. If you tend to feel increasingly down as winter approaches, you might want to start thinking about ways to keep the winter blues at bay.
Fortunately, SAD isn’t incurable; in fact, sufferers have found dozens of solutions for these seasonal feelings. While you might consider seeking therapy or taking medication and supplements, an easier and more fun treatment option is altering your home environment to make it warmer and more inviting all winter long. Here are a few tricks and tips for cozifying your home to beat SAD and stay sane.
Let There Be Light
Wintertime SAD often develops because you aren’t seeing enough sunlight, which is vital for the production of vitamin D, which in turn keeps the skeletal system, the cardiovascular system and the immune system functioning properly. One of the most effective SAD treatments is a daylight lamp, which produces UV rays that stimulate the production of vitamin D and generally improve your health and mood when used for a few minutes every day.
However, if you don’t want to invest in a UV lamp, you might try brightening up your home with more lights in general. You should keep overhead lights on during dark, cloudy days to simulate daylight, and you might use light bulbs with a neutral white tone. Then, at night, you might switch to a cozier, warm-toned light and make use of your fireplace and plenty of candles. Shadows and cool, blue tones will exacerbate SAD, so you should strive to keep your lighting bright for the rest of the cold season.
There is nothing cozy about a drafty, cold home. When the temperature drops outside, the inside of your home is likely to start feeling chilly unless you take steps to keep it warm. Starting in the fall, you should start searching out weaknesses in your exterior envelope, like peeling seals around windows and doors, cracks in your siding or masonry and similar issues. Many of these problems you can fix yourself with some new weatherstripping or some caulk.
Once you thwart drafts, you should focus on keeping your home warm. Smart thermostats have proved a fantastic financial investment because they can dramatically reduce your energy bills thanks to their minute and remote temperature control. If you have a smart thermostat installed, you can begin warming your home before you leave work, so you can return to a cozy space. Additionally, you might consider using a gas heater in the corners of your home, like in bedrooms or dens far from the main furnace. This will reduce the load on your furnace while ensuring you feel warm and snug.
Finally, you should cover your hard surfaces in softer materials, like rugs, throw blankets and pillows. Soft fabrics don’t just look comfy and cozy; they also serve to hold onto more heat than your tile or hardwood alone, keeping your rooms warmer without taxing your furnace. Plus, you will feel better buried under a mountain of blankets than you would shivering in an empty, echo-y room.
Surround Yourself With Life
Almost everything slows down and goes dormant during the winter months, when the darkness and low temperatures make the outside world inhospitable. While a snow-covered landscape can be beautiful, it can also be quite bleak, leading to feelings of depression and helplessness. Though it is rather unlikely that you will be able to bring life back to the outdoors anytime soon, you can invigorate your inside spaces in a variety of ways.
Indoor plants are especially trendy right now, perhaps because they help liven up any interior. As long as you keep your home warm and slightly humid, gorgeous tropical plants like Monstera deliciosa and fiddleleaf figs will thrive all winter long. You might consider framing your windows with hanging pots and putting smaller planters, with plants like succulents and cacti, on shelves and tables.
In addition, you should prioritize decorating with bright color. While minimalist and monochrome color schemes have surged in popularity, white, gray and black intensify the austerity of winter. Instead, you should choose colors that make you smile, like coral, lavender, forest green or millennium pink. Color makes a space fun and inviting, which is what you need during the long winter months ahead.
Last but not least, you should keep your loved ones close throughout the winter. There is a reason that so many of the year’s most important celebrations occur during the cold season; having friends and family nearby makes the snow and wind less oppressive and lifts spirits. If you start to feel SAD, you should spend time with someone who cares about you, ideally in your newly cozified home. Thanks to ACE for collaborating!