If the cold, the rain, or the shortened hours of sunshine are getting you down, you’re not alone. Many people experience some level of depression or low mood at this time of year. Here are five easy and doable ways to lift you out of the mid-winter funk.

And please remember that if you look at these simple strategies and say: “I tried that. It didn’t work,” these tools need to be practiced regularly. By just doing something once, it might have a short-term effect, but by doing them regularly, it can have a lasting effect. The key is to find which strategy or strategies you prefer most, and practice them as often as you can.

1. Go for a walk or run. Even if you can’t be bothered, put on your exercise gear, walk to the door, and just do it. Start small and easy—a five or 10-minute walk or run. Before you start, make a mental or written note of how you feel. After the exercise, check in with yourself and make another mental or written note of how you feel. See if there’s any difference before and after. Try and do this every day.

2. Try some yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong or Pilates. Find out where your closest class is and go. Or, if you don’t like the idea of that, look up a class on YouTube, find a teacher that resonates with you and have a go. Doing one of these activities once or twice a week can really help lift a low mood. Remember that if you have neck, back or other medical difficulties, start slow and easy and consult your medical professional first.

3. Listen to your favourite music. Turn off the gloomy news and put on some music that you enjoy; that uplifts you. If you’re in your car, sing along to it.

4. Buy some essential oils plus an oil burner or diffuser. Or if you prefer, buy some aromatherapy candles. Whichever you choose, light them as soon as you get home and enjoy the calming smells that fill your home. Remember to check on any flames regularly and blow them out before you go to bed.

5. Remember to breathe. If you’re feeling low it can be incredibly helpful to just notice any tight or uncomfortable body sensations, sit yourself down in a quiet room and calmly breathe into the parts of your body where you feel the tightness or discomfort most strongly. Next, imagine your tummy is a balloon and breathe right down into it, filling the balloon. Then breathe out all the air, letting the balloon deflate fully. As you do this you can say quietly in your mind: “Breathing in calm, I relax my body. Breathing out, I let go of all the tension.”

Remember to try these tools regularly. But if your low mood persists, consult your medical professional or therapist for help.

Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash