7 Ways to Stay Positive During the Dark and Cold Winter

6 Effective Ways to Keep the Energy and Optimism Up During the Dark and Cold Winter

“In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
Anne Bradstreet 

Up here in Sweden the winter is dark, cold and often comes with a mix of rain and snow.

And spring is still far away.

It is not easy to keep the energy and optimism up like in the bright and warm summer days.

So today I'd like to share 7 habits I use that make it a lot easier to stay positive even throughout this dark and often grey season.

1. Find one of your biggest energy sucks.

Ask yourself: What is the biggest energy suck in my life right now?

You may for example find that it is a person in your life that is very negative.

Or that the report that you have been meaning to finish for a month now is dragging you down.

Then you follow that up with asking:

What is one thing I can do about this?

Maybe you decide that you want stop hanging out with that person. Or at least spend less of the time you have in a week with him or her and more of that time with the people that give you the most energy.

Perhaps you can just set off 5 minutes today to get started again with finishing your report.

For some energy sucks there might not be a simple solution. Or a solution at all, at least at this time.

Then you may want to find one of the lesser leaks in your life that you can actually do something about.

Take a few minutes or half an hour out of your day to plug just one of these biggest leaks and you'll have more energy to spend on what truly matters to you.

2. Be grateful for the small things and the things you may sometimes take for granted.

When I'm looking out the window over the dark and rainy landscape in the morning it is easy to forget about the things I actually have.

Things like:

  • A roof over my head and a warm home.
  • Clean water.
  • Three steady meals every day.

I have found that zooming out on my perspective like this helps out a lot to snap out of any kind of victim thinking and negativity.

3. Vitamin D supplements.

For the past few winters I've been taking Vitamin D supplements each day and I've found them to give back quite a bit of the energy I tend to lose during a long winter.

A few people close to me are also taking them and are reporting similar positive effects in varying degrees.

4. Go outside for 3-5 minutes first thing in the morning.

This is my favorite new and daily habit in the past few months.

I first heard about it from the popular Huberman Lab Podcast by Andrew Huberman, a professor in neuroscience at Stanford University. And I've since learned that Tim Ferriss and several others have also adopted this habit recently from Huberman.

I've found that simply going out on our porch for 3-5 minutes in the morning first thing after the sun has come up – at around nine o'clock here in Sweden right now – helps me to truly wake up and feel much more alert and energetic during my day.

When I am out on the porch I just look out at the sky and the view for a few minutes. And as my eyes are exposed to the sunlight – even if it is a cloudy day – several processes are activated in my body that will help me to be more alert during the day but also help me to get better sleep (according to Huberman's podcast).

I haven't personally noticed much difference in my sleep but that one was already working pretty well for me.

5. A light-therapy lamp.

I've been using a light-therapy lamp for a couple of winters and it has had some pretty big effects (I have more energy and it makes it easier to keep the optimism up).

So far this winter I have not felt much need to use it as going outside for my morning light – as mentioned in the previous tip – has had such a big and positive effect.

But the winter is not over yet so I may start using it later on as an extra booster in the mornings.

6. Exercise.

An obvious but a very effective one.

Regular exercise  – I lift weights every other day nowadays – will give you more energy. It will help you to release inner tensions, anxiety and stress.

And so it will be easier to stay relaxed, positive and to think clearly with less overthinking and to act decisively.

7. Take action and move forward.

Few things create so much frustration, worries and anxiety as sitting on your hands and doing nothing.

So even though it might be a little extra tough to get started or to keep going with your dreams and goals during this season remind yourself that if you do you will replace those feelings and thoughts above with optimism and self-confidence.

And remember that you do not have to go forward in big or quick leaps.

The most important thing is simply that you move forward. Even if it is by just taking one small or slow step after another.

Because those steps will quickly add up over the weeks even if they may not look so impressive in themselves.


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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehack, The Huffington Post and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I’d add, force yourself to go out and socialize. I think people in northern climates tend to get isolated because we want to stay warm in our cozy homes. But that sort of isolation can drag people down. Years ago I use to work Vaio support at Sony Electronics. Our longest call times were always from Alaska. That 6 months of darkness translated into chattiness on support calls.

    You have to force yourself to get out, and if you have no life then go find something in the community such as group jogging, yoga, bingo, you name it. All kinds of activities out there where newcomers are welcome with open arms.

  • Tash

    Simple but brilliant advice. Sending thanks to you and blessings to you and those who are affected by SAD and other depressive disorders.

  • Edwin Vernon

    Thanks Henrik
    Wisconsin’s cold, dark, and bleak climate epitomizes seasonal affective disorder…unless we use the tools you recommend. Certainly a good time for increased exercise, reading , and reflection on Gods blessings (bears are strong and know the value of long winter naps). Light panels with daylight bulbs (5000 K) available in 2 by 2 and 2 by 4 foot sizes are great for SAD.

  • Great advice! I believe without darkness, we cannot appreciate the light. And without cold, we cannot appreciate the heat. Everything has a good thing to offer if only we are willing to search deep. Also, we should never underestimate the power of gratitude. Thanks for writing an awesome article.

    • Jo

      Love this! I agree!

  • Great info… Thanks for sharing

  • Lozza

    I love reading your posts Henrik – they always cheer me up and make me think of ways to add sparkle to my days.
    I’ve also started feeding the wild birds outside my window here and it’s amazing how much fun it is, glancing up from my writing and watching them bounce from trees to bird feeders.
    If they can get through a tough, grey, cold winter, so can I.
    Thank you for all your inspirational words Henrik.

  • Abhishek

    I love, and appreciate so very much your blog posts, Henrik. The winters are certainly tough on me, and it is reassuring to a certain degree, to know that a resident of one of the Scandic countries, up here in the North, face the same challenges as someone more accustomed to a climate of heat and sun may be battling. I used to, back home in India, go out up on the terrace first thing in the morning, and kind of set myself up for the day by recharging my batteries under the sun. What a wonderful thing it is, the sun. Now I live in Norway, and safe to say I do miss home! But, the winter has its own beauty, and does teach, like everything, lessons one needs. Exercise, actively encouraging myself to be more social, Vitamin D supplements ( I’m due mine soon!), and maintaining a positive attitude as best as you can, along with keeping in touch with loved ones, it makes a world of difference. It is certainly a challenge, and one we don’t face alone. Reassuring! Thank you once more for your incredibly helpful, inspiring and comforting articles. I wish you and your loved ones everything nice, and health, peace and happiness always :)

  • Anna

    The most important thing is to move forward that is a good advice thanks Henrik! Have a warm winter and brighter days! Anna

  • Zuhaib

    Great advice.. Thanks Henrik . Your posts are always good to read and it gives me strength to stay positive whenever I feel low.

  • 7602757603 7602757603

    I took a while before reading this. Because I have been blue. It was very appropriate for this time in my journey. I have embraced the morning ritual and the exercise. Thank you.