7 tips to be happy when a dark winter brings you down

This morning I got a message from someone who I hadn’t spoken with for a long time. She told me that she currently has a hard time being happy and that my positive messages and pictures are helping to cheer her up. I know how challenging it can be sometimes to find joy and I’m very grateful that I am able to help others where I can.

When you’re feeling down I think it’s very important to reach out to someone and tell how you feel. It might not be an easy step, but you have to know that everyone has their ups and downs and there is a good chance they’ll understand how you feel. Even if they might not have a solution for you, it’ll probably make you feel better to just share your challenges with someone.

Talking about it is a great start, though there is no change without action. Therefore I’ve written down seven actions that might help you feel better and bring more joy into your days.

1. Start with gratitude
You might have heard it before and don’t feel thankful at all for where you are now, but this is definitely an important key to experience more joy. There is always something to be thankful for, like that you have a computer or phone to go online and read articles like this or the fact that you can read at all. You can be thankful that you’ve had something to eat today or that you can enjoy something like a cup of coffee. Even more basic: you can be thankful that you’re alive. If you think about the chance that you were born, the odds were one in a billion. I hope that realising this will make you aware of the fact how special it is that you are alive today. You are the miracle of life and that certainly is something to be thankful for.

Several studies show how people feel a lot better after just a few weeks of keeping a gratitude journal. This TED talk by David Steindl-Rast tells more about how gratitude is a key to happiness. To make it practical: get yourself a notebook and write down one or more things everyday that you’re thankful for. The year just started, so you still have the chance to write down more than 300 things to be thankful for this year. Take a moment right now to think of one thing that you are thankful for. Doesn’t it make you feel better?

2. Get enough sleep
It seems like almost everyone is super busy these days. Work, sports, social activities. Days are fully planned and sleep is often not a high priority. I used to say that sleep is overrated, but after reading a book called The Ripple Effect I learned the importance of sleep. From my own experience I also know that when I’ve had several days of six hours sleep or less that I find it harder to think positive thoughts. Your day will look a lot better after a long night of sleep and you’re well rested and energised to start the day. It takes some discipline to go to bed on time, but it can become a habit pretty quickly. Also, make your bedroom comfortable for sleep: phone away, room as dark as possible and take no caffeine several hours before you sleep. More tips like these for optimizing your sleep are found everywhere on the internet.

3. Keep moving
When you’re not happy, feeling down and not motivated, it might be the last thing on your mind to do some exercise. Nonetheless is it very effective to get yourself moving. It doen’t have to be intense strength training or cardio workout that make you sweat like an animal (although that might be great as well of course). If all you can get yourself to do is a stroll in the park, then that is enough. The most important thing is that you get into movement. When you’re staying home all day and not doing anything, that’s a perfect recipe to feel worse. Give yourself that little push and just go outside for half an hour. When you get your body to move, it produces substances that’ll make you feel better. If you can motivate yourself to do a bit more intense sports, like running or bouldering or rope climbing, that’s even better. There is a big chance that your mood lifts when your heartbeat rises.

4. Know that feelings are temporary
On dark days it may seems that it’ll always stay like this, but that is not true. Feelings will come and feelings will go. They might stay for a day, a week or a month, but eventually this feeling will go away. Just look back for a moment and try to remember times when you were happy. See? You haven’t always felt down and there will be days again when you’re happy. Accept how you feel now and know that this feeling is only temporary.

5. Everything is temporary
Not just feelings are temporary. In fact, everything is temporary. The situation you’re in now, the problems you might be facing, they won’t last for ever. You might not see a solution yet, but things will change. Change is one of the certainties in life. The job you have now, where you live, the people in your life, the things you like or don’t like. It is all temporary. I know that this might be a scary or sad thought, but when you’re down or having problems, it might be a thought of hope. Whatever it is that you’re going through now, this situation is temporary and will pass. Things will change, that’s for sure!

6. Be in the moment
When you realise that almost nothing is forever, it might help you focus more on this moment. Today will come only once and whether it’s a good day or a bad day, know that this day will never come back. You might as well make the best of it. Try to fully embrace this moment, knowing that it’ll pass.

7. Find one thing you enjoy doing
I think it’s very important to do something you enjoy doing, every day. There are already so many things we ‘have to’ do, like work or cleaning the house, that we should also make time for something we really enjoy. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. It might be reading a few pages from a book you love, making yourself a delicious cup of coffee, doing something creative like drawing, writing, cooking, baking or making music. For the high achievers under us: it’s not about the results, but about the experience. Your drawing or painting doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s about the joy of doing it. Making sure you do at least one thing everyday that you enjoy gives each day more value and a good reason to get out of bed.

I hope these tips help you feel better soon. Feel free to send me a message if you want to talk more, I’d be happy to help you where I can. Know that you are totally awesome, even if you might not feel like that right now. You are a wonderful person and better days will be coming for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *