can be a long and dreary season for many of us.  After the beauty of pristine snow and delicate icicles has slowly evolved into a slushy mess of grey and cold, winter stops being pretty and starts feeling endless.  Between the lack of sunlight, cold temperatures, and lack of social activity it easy to see how this season can take its toll on your mood.   So here are 5 simple ways to brighten your mood and get through these last few days of winter.

Create a springtime playlist.  Music can be a powerful mood lifter and an easy way to shift gears mentally no matter where you are or what you’re doing.  Whether you like iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, or keep it old school with CDs, set up a special playlist for yourself.  Choose songs that evoke a feeling of optimism, happiness, or summertime parties and listen to it whenever you’re feeling crabby or down.

Get some sunshine.  One of the reasons that a long winter can be so tough on us emotionally is the lack of sunlight.  It has a biological impact on our bodies that can show itself as depressed mood and lack of energy.  So whenever possible, sit by the window, bundle up and go for a walk, or just turn on some extra lamps at home.  If you are experiencing more significant symptoms you might want to consider investing in a light box or light bulbs specially designed to mimic the effects of natural sunlight.

Be social.  After the all the excitement of the holiday season has died down, most people aren’t too excited to get out and party.  The cold nights and need for layers and boots instead of cute dresses and sandals can deter many of us from venturing out to party with friends.  But socializing is a big part of what keeps us happy and emotionally healthy.  We need to connect and enjoy time with others so make a point to plan at least one social activity with friends or family each week.  The time together will more than make up for the hassle of getting out in the snow.

Make plans.  While learning to be present-focused is an important skill, there’s still value in having something to look forward to.  Planing for a summer vacation or spring time weekend adventure will help to pull you out of the winter doldrums.  When we set goals for ourselves it can bring new meaning to the daily tasks ahead of us.  Even something as simple as pulling out a favorite sundress or college t-shirt and planning to wear it as soon as the weather warms up can lift your mood and get you thinking about the joy of warmer weather.

Embrace the wonder of winter. Remember how you felt the first time you saw a snowflake or the prettiness of changing leaves?  Winter is a necessary time of rest for nature and for our spirits.  Even though it may take it’s toll on our mood, remember that without winter we would not have the renewal of spring or the wonder of summer.  Take a moment each day to be grateful for something related to winter.  You can be philosophical about it and focus on the gift of rest that it bestows on us, find the fun in it and be grateful for another chance to snowboard, or  keep it practical and just be glad to warm up your cold fingers with a hot latte.  Either way, reconnecting with the joy of winter will help you get through it’s challenges with a little more joy.

*please note that if you are experiencing significant sadness, hopelessness, or other depressive signs that impact your daily functioning, you should seek the support of a qualified therapist or physician  If you have been diagnosed with depression or SAD (seasonal affective disorder) these tips may be help but should not replace your current treatment plans without consulting your health provider*