I try to see I see myself as a generally happy person, but sometimes I seriously struggle. This winter has been a rough one for me. I’ve been away from family for a long time, and after the holidays were over, it felt like a long freeze waiting for the spring. Typically, I can see beauty in rainy days or fog blanketing a field. However, after months of that plus snow and wind, and I really start to struggle to find beauty.

I think a lot of people struggle with seasonal depression, even if mildly. My whole life, my mom struggled with the winter months. It didn’t help that we lived in cold climates with long winters. I didn’t have a name to call it, but I always knew it was rough in the winter. She would seem more irritable and pessimistic. This was the polar opposite of the mom I knew during the summer months. If the sun was out, we were out.

I have to keep telling myself, “It’s March. Spring is almost here,” but sometimes it feels like it will never end. I think the key to overcoming this is making a plan and deciding for myself that I will be happy no matter the weather.

Today was abnormally warm and the sun was shining in a blue sky. I decided to go grocery shopping. I live about 30 minutes away from the store, and feeling the sun again during the long drive boosted my mood more than any motivational quote could have. I found myself staring at the sunny, open fields, grateful for the light and warmth.

Who was to say I couldn’t take control of my mood in the winter? After this boost of motivation from the sun, I resolved to find ways to stay active and motivated, even on the dreariest day. As I thought about this more, I realized that when I’m the most depressed is when I’m idle. So I came up with a list. When my mood started to drop, I would do one or two of these things on the list.

  • Read a book
  • Take a walk
  • Write a short story
  • Create a vision board
  • Write in my journal
  • Call an old friend
  • Plan a future vacation
  • Do yoga
  • Sketch
  • Make a healthy meal or snack
  • Write a letter
  • Ask my grandparents to tell me an experience of theirs
  • Plan a game night
  • Close my eyes and listen to my favorite song
  • Meditate
  • Drive somewhere I’ve never been

The list could go on and on obviously. The point is, I need to get my body moving or my brain active. What do you love doing no matter the weather? Try to avoid things like movie nights. While they are so much fun, you aren’t exercising your brain or body. You are passively sitting there rather than actively achieving goals. Find something that will actively move you toward achieving one of your goals. Use your friends. They can be great motivators.

One fact I have come to realize is that you have complete control of your happiness. Yes, circumstances suck sometimes, but life doesn’t. Life is amazing. Life is full of purpose. I think sometimes people get overwhelmed by their trials and they think that life is what is hard. No, it’s not. Life is potential. It is growth. Imagine where you were five years ago. Are you a better person than you were then? Most likely, you are better. I firmly believe that people can improve each day. Life is great, even if our circumstances are bad. The sooner one realizes that, the better.

Decide now to take control of your life. Remind yourself that despite hardships, you can be strong. You can be optimistic no matter what you go through.

Make a list like I did. It might start off with just five items. Five items is a start, though. Make sure they are items that will make you feel productive. This can do so much in motivating you. So start now. What are those five things you’ll do when you start to feel the midwinter blues?