Tips on Boosting That Mood

Ever wonder how to successfully get through the long winter months that lay ahead? As someone who has settled in the Midwest region, you have unfortunately discovered how the long, dark, cold, wintry season may impact one’s mental health. However, ‘Tis the season to improve the winter tide, so let’s explore ways to boost our mental health below.

Light Therapy

Our moods may be affected, especially in the winter months, due to decreased sunlight exposure. Light exposure contributes not only to our circadian clock but also to other areas of the brain that impact mental disposition. This is where light therapy can influence an improvement in our mood. Light therapy includes using a light of at least 10,000 lux for 30 minutes daily, sitting directly or off to the side, but not looking directly into the light. Using light therapy can be done in the morning while one reads, watches television, works on a computer, and much more.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep plays a crucial role in our mood, and both have a bidirectional relationship in the outcomes of our mental health. However, for the purpose of this article, we will focus on how sleep affects mood, not the latter. Improving one’s mood calls for proper sleep hygiene, which entails establishing a night routine, sleeping in a cool, dark atmosphere, decreasing electronic usage prior to sleep, avoiding caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon, exercising earlier in the day, and avoiding it close to bedtime. An adequate amount of time asleep is also required, at least seven hours per night. When you hone in on your sleep hygiene and achieve the appropriate amount of sleep, your mind and body will thank you.

Nutrition and Exercise

We know the New Year is upon us, which is frequently a time for creating new fitness and health goals. Common goals surround eating more nutritious foods and exercising. Let’s shift the focus of nutrition and exercise goals to benefit not only our physical health but our mental health as well! Participating in regular exercise is a great way to work towards improving our mental health. This is in part due to the brain releasing endorphins as well as serotonin, which works to boost our mood. Nutrition also plays a vital role in our mental health. One way to see benefits in our mental health is to focus on functional foods. These are whole foods rich in macronutrients and micronutrients. Food and mood go hand in hand; the more nourishing foods consumed, the more you’re setting yourself up for a healthier gut and mind.


When we practice mindfulness, we practice living “intentionally.” It can be difficult when we are surrounded by so much technology that has a tendency to pull us from the present moment. Mindfulness practices are key to helping us become attuned to our feelings and thoughts, which can in turn help us manage them better. Ways to practice mindfulness include meditation, mindful eating, yoga, gratitude journal, breath work, and more.

Quality Time With Family & Friends

You may roll your eyes at this one. At this point, you may have had enough time with your quite irritable Aunt Karen, whose political opinion is undoubtedly the only correct one in the room and, in her case, the whole United States. However, it is not recommended to spend extra time with those you do not find agreeable and who tend to raise your blood pressure. In fact, that might have quite the opposite effect you’re wanting on your mental health. What is recommended would be quality time with people whom you enjoy spending time with, like loved ones that you consider good emotional support. Spending more time and surrounding yourself with good company whom you have built healthy, positive relationships with is key in helping improve your mental health. These face-to-face interactions can greatly decrease depression and anxiety symptoms this winter.

Seek Help

Deciding when to seek help for mental health treatment can be difficult. If you are having a difficult time during this wintry season, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a mental health provider. You may also find it helpful to reach out to a friend or family member to help you work through this decision. In the tough seasons of life, resources are available to help you get through. Mental health providers can help recommend the most effective treatments to improve mood symptoms and work on your overall quality of life. It’s time to nurture your mental wellness. Can you implement one or some of these tips in order to win this winter? We’d love to see it!

Submitted by Madeline Bickhaus PMHNP-BC