Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder With Uplifting Winter Design

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No one feels happy all the time, but there is truth to the notion that winter weather, principally the absence of sunlight, can contribute to bouts of depression -- what granny used to call the blues, or even to a more extreme version called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Understanding that the shorter days of winter can have a negative impact on mood is the first step in dealing with seasonal affective disorder and milder winter blues. It isn't you -- it's the calendar that's the problem.

If you find yourself wishing you were anywhere but home this winter, and even your favorite pastimes lack their usual sparkle, here are a few suggestions that might lighten your mood and brighten your home.

Cleaning & Organization Eases Winter Depression

If you didn't have time to prepare for winter with a little fall cleaning and organizing, now is the time to dust the baseboards and organize your closets. Trash, dust, mud and clutter are annoying, gross and unhealthy, Add rain, fog and plummeting temperatures, and you have a good excuse to pull the covers up over your head and refuse to get out of bed at all. Actually, cleaning is good exercise, and some aggressive vacuuming will get your heart rate up and release some important feel-good endorphins into your bloodstream. Cleaning may be a chore most of the time, but during the winter it can benefit your outlook as well as your interior spaces. Be sure to clean up your home before beginning other design projects to experience their full impact.

Dirty, unkempt environments are known to negatively affect mood, making a messy home just as much of a downer as the gloomy weather outside.

Window Treatments Can Affect Your Mood!

Cleaning your windows will give you a much better view of the world, but even changing your window treatments can have an impact on your mood. The goal here is to maximize the amount of natural light entering your home. The sunshine will revitalize you (and your family), and the added light will make your rooms look larger and cheerier. Try these window treatment ideas to battle winter gloom:

  • Open your curtains or blinds and let the light in every morning. It's a free mood enhancer that really works, and you may not realize how often you leave windows covered, keeping you in the dark and raising your electric bill.
  • If you have heavy window treatments, consider switching them out for lightweight drapes. You can also install sheer curtains beneath thicker ones, allowing you to switch between the two when needed.
  • If your curtains obscure portions of your windows when fully opened, consider repositioning the rods to allow the curtains to expose the entire window. You'll have access to more light, and your windows will look larger, too.
  • Hang mirrors on the walls opposite windows. They’ll reflect sunlight back across the room, making it appear even brighter and larger. You’ll also be able to see the view outside when facing inside. This can be helpful if you often feel cramped, bored or depressed by your home. Viewing the outside world can be a pleasant and soothing reminder of nature, open space and peace.

Even the color of your window treatments can influence the way you feel. Bright, light colors are a quick way to cheer you up, while darker, heavy colors like black or purple can appear ominous and depressing.

Lamps For Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you have rooms with small windows or no windows at all, invest in full spectrum light bulbs that provide many of the important qualities of natural light. They've proven effective in helping to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Full spectrum bulbs provide a bright, bluish-white light that has very good color enhancing ability, too. That means your furniture, wall art and textiles will look brighter as well. Even your houseplants will flourish under full spectrum light.

Brightening Your Mood & Rooms With Color

The science of color can help you feel more energized, and make your spaces appear more welcoming this winter. If you prefer cool colors in blues and grays, you probably enjoy restful spaces. During the summer, cool colors can be a refreshing change from the kinetic energy you feel when you spend time out on the deck or patio. Those cool hues can switch from restful to somber in winter, though. Here again, light is the culprit. You don't have to repaint your house to make it winter ready, but do add touches of lively, energetic colors to your decor that have the ability to increase focus and heighten mood. Prefer red, yellow or orange hues in:

  • Pillows
  • Throws
  • Candles
  • Picture frames
  • Lamps (or lamp shades)
  • Area rugs
  • Window treatments

Related: What Do Your Paint Colors Reveal About You?

Adding Happy Accents

When you're feeling gloomy, a good laugh can be a great antidote. Goofy accents may seem silly, but adding some fun, funny elements to your home -- like that cow themed wallpaper in your kitchen -- can give you a chuckle when you really need it.

Scents can elevate mood, too. Citrus fragrances and scents you associate with happy events or even food (think apple pie, caramel, vanilla or sugar cookie), can help you focus on the positive. You can find them in:

  • Sprays
  • Plug-ins
  • Aromatherapy candles
  • Dry or simmering potpourri
  • Scented soaps
  • Personal colognes
  • Carpet deodorizers

Music can also help. Playing a mixed-tape of tunes that get your toes tapping can make you feel more energized. Choosing music that resonates (happily) with past events like romantic interludes, weddings or birthdays can evoke feelings of joy almost instantly. Keeping a "happy" tape at the ready is always a good idea, but in winter it's a prescription for a positive mood adjustment.

Last Updated: November 8, 2012
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About Sara Elliot Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter and dedicated blogger. Her popular gardening, cooking and crafting blog, The Herb Gardener, was cited by The Wall Street Journal for its fun and frugal tips. Sara has a degree in English, and you can find her health, crafting, and lifestyle pieces on sites like,, and

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