Science tells us that feelings of sluggishness and sadness can peak during the chillier times of the year. But this year, with the pandemic — and many of us still working from home and physically separated from loved ones — these feelings of gloominess can become amplified. That’s why, now more than ever, we need to proactively look for small ways to stay positive and optimistic.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the little ways they’re maintaining their positivity as the temperature starts to drop. Which of these ideas will you try?

Look at nostalgic photos

“My favorite way to stay positive and keep my spirits high when I’m feeling low is to revisit old photos, particularly from warmer months or vacations. Browsing through old photos ignites the feeling of nostalgia, warmth, and happiness for me. These memories also remind me that I’m surrounded by a great support system to reach out to when seasonal sadness peaks.”

—Alyssa Towns (Swantkoski), business operations specialist, Denver, CO

Get lost in something new on TV

“After a long day of work, I have been watching foreign TV shows on Netflix. Previously, I would not have been able to enjoy foreign TV, but since Netflix is on a mission to appeal to global audiences, why not take advantage of shows we may have overlooked? I’ve learned to get used to the subtitles, put away my phone for a couple hours, and focus on the show. There are so many wonderful choices from all over the globe. I love seeing the fashion, business, and love portrayed through different eyes. I look forward to this ritual with a cup of hot tea, cozy pajamas, and tuning out the noise from the outside world for a bit. It’s a great winter ritual.”

—Michele Puchall, chief of talent and inspiration, New York, NY

Brew a cup of tea

“My go-to tip for keeping the body warm and spirits up is to drink tea. My favorite cold weather teas are matcha green tea and chai tea. Enjoying a cup of tea is a full sensory experience that is grounding, soothing, and rejuvenating.”

—Belinda McCall, certified holistic nutritionist, Chantilly, VA

Listen to music you love

“Lately, I’ve been listening to music any chance I get. I make sure to stream it without advertisements or news. I listen while I’m working from home, while I’m preparing dinner and always while I’m driving. Listening to your favorite kind of music helps set the mood and tone, and has a way of keeping spirits bright. I’ve started listening to Christmas carols already because they make me feel happy. I have a dance party with my kids, or by myself. Music makes everything feel better!”

—Emily Madill, author and certified professional coach, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada

Take in the sunlight

“Where I live in the Midwest, the days not only get shorter, but the skies also become cloudier. On a cloudy winter day, I make it a high priority to either stand outside or stand next to a window in direct light during the late morning and midday hours. The direct sunshine becomes more rare in the winter, so it’s important to bask in it and appreciate it. I’ve learned that seasonal affective disorder has to do with the amount of light exposure people have during the shorter days of winter. Whether you are diagnosed with SAD or not, you still may get the winter blues, simply because light affects our bodies.”

—Lindsay Stefans, lighting designer, Cleveland, OH

Bring nature into your home

“Enjoying the outdoors on the level I am used to is becoming very difficult now that it’s getting colder outside. I know being stuck indoors away from nature and sunlight impacts my mood and motivation, so when I feel the same four walls are bringing me down, I look at beautiful images of natural scenery online, which makes me feel better. And since I can’t be outside as much as I like, I bring as much nature as I can into my home with additional plants and flowers. I find being more mindful of how I set up my environment helps combat my seasonal blues.”

—Farrah Smith, life coach, Los Angeles, CA

Practice yoga

“I’m a firm believer that by moving our bodies, we can move our mood. In yogic philosophy, we understand how the energetic body can affect our physical body, our mood, and our behaviors. That’s why I turn to mood-boosting yoga as the weather gets colder. I do spinal twists to release tension in the back, hip-opening stretches to release tension in the hips, back bends to release endorphins, and inversions to get the blood flowing.”

—Michelle Maslin-Taylor, yoga teacher and holistic coach, Surrey, UK

Try cold-water swimming

“I am a new convert to cold water wild swimming! In the past, winter used to come with dread for the dark nights, short days, and I struggled with depression. Now I am embracing the elements, getting out in nature for walks and also I have taken up cold water wild swimming with friends. It has been transformational for my mental health, physical well-being, and my stress levels.”

—Jo Gifford, author and content development strategist, Cambridge, UK

Get creative with your self-care

“This season, I will be focusing on exploring new strategies for taking care of my mental and physical health. Consistent exercise and healthy eating are always so important to me during the winter months, but this year, I am boosting my self-care by indulging in bodywork and massage, exploring various modalities of energy healing, and continuing with my acupuncture. I’ve read lots of books on connecting with myself and translating my internal priorities into tangible routines. This type of self-care goes a long way as the weather changes.”

—Colleen Kavanagh, entrepreneur and soul being, Boston, MA

Wear all your cozies

“I’ve found it helpful to embrace the colder weather, rather than avoid it. I do this by creating a warm foundation by wearing the right clothing. Put on a soft and warm cashmere sweater, wrap yourself up in a fuzzy scarf, and layer up wool socks and mittens.  From there, find pleasurable activities that you are excited to try, whether it be skating, having an impromptu snowball fight with your kids, or taking a walk in freshly fallen snow.”

—Marta Rzeszowska Chavent, change and management consultant, France

Start a journal

“One thing I personally do to stay positive is diligently writing a journal, documenting how I feel, and writing down affirmations and appreciations for every moment of happiness that comes to my life. I use the app Long Walks for the daily prompts and reminders, which is good for building a daily habit.”

—Jill Sandy, blogger, North Dakota, ND

How do you keep your spirits high as the temperature drops? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.