Four Ways Solopreneurs Can Stay Happy (And Productive) This Winter

I admitted to my listeners this past week that I’d been in a funk and I’ve received many great emails of support with lots of juicy advice on beating seasonal funks.

Carrie Willard even offered me a guest blog post – which I’m pleased to share with you now :)

beat-the-winter-bluesWhen I saw Kelly’s newsletter Friday, I immediately asked her if I could share a few tips on staying happy and productive during the darker winter months. (Obviously, she said yes!) In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed the familiar old feeling returning and began to get concerned about my level of productivity and interest in my online business and writing.

Since my teens, I’ve recognized that I experience “spring fever” – increased energy, jumping out of bed early in the morning, and general zest and excitement for life, in response to the increased light.

But it wasn’t until I was in my 30’s (I’m a slow learner) that I realized that I also experience the opposite: wintertime blues. For the last few years, however, I’ve developed a few tricks and habits that have helped tremendously.

Here they are:

  • Go Outside
  • Eat Right
  • Movement
  • Happy Light

Go Outside

Being born and raised in the Deep South, I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold. I have to force myself to dress in layers and get outside. But, spending time outdoors even when I have to bundle up helps my mood tremendously. Natural light, even in winter, is of a higher quality than indoor lighting. I find it especially helpful to go outside during the morning hours. This helps me wake up and boosts my energy, which tends to flag in the cooler months.

In addition, many people become deficient in Vitamin D during the winter months, and this can worsen depression symptoms. Getting outside each day can prevent this.

Eat Right

It’s tempting to turn to sugar and empty carbs to improve your mood, but fight the urge.

These things will cause blood sugar swings that can negatively impact mood anytime. If you’re craving sweets, make sure you’re eating enough protein and healthy fats, and indulge in complex carbs (things like sweet potatoes with maple syrup) instead of junk food. Also, I’m not opposed to a little judicial use of caffeine to self-medicate (caffeine is a natural antidepressant), but I limit myself to 2 cups a day, and not after 2 PM, so that I can sleep well at night.


How many times have we read about studies proving that exercise helps with depression? While all I want to do is couch out with hot tea and a good book all winter, movement boosts my mood instantly and also helps with those aches and pains I seem to get as soon as the thermostat starts dipping. It doesn’t take joining an expensive gym, even a 1-mile walk each day can do wonders.

The other nice thing about exercising in cold weather is that you burn more calories since your body has to work harder to regulate your temperature. Bonus!

Get a Happy Light

Two years ago, I broke down and purchased a “happy light” to use therapeutically. Mine is the Verilux brand, and it provides high quality, natural spectrum light to help combat winter blues. I don’t need it every day, just when we’ve had a few days in a row of gloomy grey, rainy weather and I haven’t been able to get outside. It was worth every penny at $50.

What are some things you’ve done to combat winter blues?

carrie-lauthCarrie Willard is a homeschooling mom of many, writer and blogger. Last month she wrote about harnessing the power of habits to create big change in your life


  1. says

    Carrie, for years I too struggled with “winter blues” and after reading on many health topics I came across an article that talked about a lady having depression and lack of energy… it was discovered she just needed more light. In fact, she had to move away from Alaska to a location where she got more adequate light year around. Many people have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and don’t realize it….so all your tips are right on cue… I keep a bottle of vitamin D on hand to take more often in wintertime. I also do a short series of squats and stretches throughout the day whenever I get up from working to take a bathroom break. And, I keep sunlight coming in my window near my desk area with plants… those little things can really help.
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  2. Jen Moulton says

    When I also received the same e-mail from Kelly offering advice on how to beat winter blues, I had to reply with a remedy that works very well for me. I am a person who has suffered from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) for my entire teenage and adult life. I never wanted to go on antidepressants, so I simply lived with it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against antidepressants, as I know several people that are on them, but I didn’t want them for myself. But my SAD was so bad that I have contemplated suicide (despite my great faith in the Christian belief), stopped eating (and as a result lost considerable weight), and barely made it through my days. Every year my favorite season is fall, but every year I dreaded the late fall, because I knew what was coming around the bend: the time change, the shorter days, and the long winter (where I currently live, which is in southern WI). Even my minor in psychology did not make me immune to the effects of depression. Even though I know “what” causes depression, I still didn’t know how to beat it in my own life.

    About a month ago, I was talking with a friend who also suffers from SAD. Her therapist recommended that she start taking Vitamin D3, the “sunshine” vitamin. It is the same vitamin that is manufactured by the body when the skin is exposed to the sun. I read that there is more prevalence of this disorder now than ever before and one of the reasons is because of the skin protectants out there. They don’t allow for the skin to absorb enough sun to make the vitamin.

    Anyway, I went to my local discount store (no need to spend outrageous dollars for “fancy” vitamins) and purchased a bottle of the tiny little gel caps and started to take the dose of 2000 International Units per day, as recommended by my friend’s therapist. This did not work for me, so I went on the internet and did some research. I found out that the safe upper limit for Vitamin D3 is 5000 International Units per day, so I bumped up my regimen to 4000 International Units per day. Within DAYS, I was feeling so much better. I could hardly believe it. I totally attribute my feeling better to the Vitamin D3, as nothing else in my life has changed. I still have the same stressors and the same blessings in my life, so I know that the Vitamin D3 is working for me. Keep in mind, however, this regimen will only work with the one type of depression; it won’t work for those that don’t truly suffer from SAD. So, I write this little post in hopes that fellow SAD sufferers like me can use this bit of knowledge to make their lives a little better, or as in my case, a lot better!

  3. says

    Such a helpful blog post. As a WAHM, I found that when I keep myself in my home too long working or otherwise avoiding getting out, I tend to fall into a funk too, regardless of the weather. I have learned to force myself out of the house, even if it means using Starbucks as a place to write. The act of needing to get dressed beyond yoga pants and a soft sweater and interacting with people face-to-face really improves my disposition.

  4. says

    I suffer from SAD, moderate depression, PTSD and hypothyroidism. It takes a lot to get me going for the day. During the school week I have to go back to bed about 9 or 10 am because I hit an energy wall and no matter how hard I fight it I can’t get through it. I usually have the same thing around 5:30 but I have to force myself to push through that one because my son is home from school by then. During the weekends I beat the energy wall by sleeping until at least 11 am.

    I am on Zoloft for depression and thyroid meds for the hypothyroidism.

    In the daytime I open all the curtains and the front door to let as much light in as I can.

    It’s not easy living this way and I am glad there are a few people here who admit to having the same issues I have.

    Thank you Carrie and Kelly.


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