I am a Floridian by birth who has now lived in colder, gloomier winter climates thanks to my husband’s orders with the Army. Although snow in Germany and Maryland have been very exciting for both me and my children, the grey days and early darkfall bring me down on my most optimistic of days.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can impact us during winter months causing us to feel tired, sad, unmotivated, lazy and exhibit a general malaise. (Special shout out to our ladies living in Alaska! Stay strong!)

Although my children and I have enjoyed our lazy “we’re in pajamas all day” days, I can’t help but feel like I can do something to better motivate us all. So instead of feeling down, living in sweats, eating away boredom and drinking away my mood, I have decided to take the following steps to brighten my day.

  1. Hydrate. A lack of fluids is connected to reduced energy and a decrease in immune function. Combat this by drinking half your bodyweight in ounces each day. (For example, a 150 lb person would consume 75 oz of water). My favorite way to achieve this is with one large bottle that I only have to refill a few times throughout the day.
  2. Music. Don’t underestimate the power of your favorite upbeat music to get you going in the morning, while you do chores or play with the kids. Who knows? Your playlist may inspire a dance party!
  3. Aromatherapy. A wonderful aroma is sure to lift my mood. Something about fresh coffee brewing, cookies baking, or pasta sauce simmering really does wonders for me. But no need to stay in the kitchen all day — look into scented candles or oils to boost your spirits.
  4. Light therapy. Our bodies miss the brightness of the sun during the winter months. Brighten up your day with a light therapy lamp or ion therapy lamp. I am completely in love with the Himalayan salt lamp I purchased for my mom’s birthday. During my last visit, I couldn’t stop commenting on how much I enjoyed how it made me feel.
  5. Exercise. Give your body mood-elevating endorphins, sleep better at night and melt away stress. From the comfort of home you can practice yoga, body weight exercises, or workout to your favorite DVD / online program.
  6. Nutrition. Fuel your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to properly function, feel great during the day, and sleep well at night. Every winter I seem to indulge in junk and alcohol and feel worse for it. I’m turning that around.
  7. Reduce screen time. Although it’s tempting to plug in when you can’t easily go outside, make sure you limit screen time. Read a book, call a friend, work on a project, or play with your kids. And remember that screen time before bed can interfere with your sleep cycles. Do what you can to ward of insomnia and feel refreshed each morning.
  8. Be social. Although it’s tempting to be a recluse, make sure that you spend some time with friends. (And I mean in person, not just through a chat screen). The laughs and conversation will do you well.
  9. Get out of the house. Buy yourself proper winter apparel and get outside. Take a walk, play with the kids, build a snowman, shovel snow, have a snowball fight, or sled. The fresh air, change of scenery and activity will do you well.

Bundle up, stay warm out there, and be good to yourself. A little investment in you will bring much-needed sunshine and warmth on a cold day.


A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops is a mother of two and enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. She is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and has discussed her articles on-air with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen adventuring with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.



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