With the holidays passed and winter settled in for (what seems like) the long haul, many people can develop a case of the winter blues, especially in their home interiors
The days are shorter, and any sunlight that can be found outdoors is overpowered by the bitter cold. Then there’s the inclement weather that limits the kids to playing inside, where cabin fever is driving everybody close to the edge. It’s enough to give you a case of the “winter blahs,” which can spell trouble for your mental and physical health.
Winter blues can grow into seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression characterized by moodiness, fatigue, poor concentration, social withdrawal and increases in appetite and weight. Doctors often prescribe medication for people affected by SAD, but there are things you can do at home to fight wintertime depression, too. Experts suggest sufferers revamp their home environment to put a little more cheer and life into these winter months:
Image by: Peter Malinowski
Let There Be Light
According to the Center for Environmental Therapeutics, approximately 25 percent of the population at the middle-to-northern latitudes of the United States experience the winter blues. The best way to keep these blues at bay is to let light into your life, literally. Natural light fights depression by boosting serotonin levels in the brain, so open up the shades and draw back the curtains. If winter’s limited natural light isn’t doing the trick, consider replacing some or all of your light bulbs with full-spectrum lighting. It’s the the next best thing to natural light, and your reading lamp is a great place to start.
Bring the Outdoors In
Placing plants and flowers throughout your home makes it more inviting and helps you stay connected to nature. Not only do they look great, plants and flowers produce oxygen, which can add to the air quality of your home. There are a range of tabletop and floor plants that do well indoors. And why not buy yourself some Valentine’s Day flowers this year? Try potted flowers that come in a variety of bright, cheerful colors and will last long enough to brighten up the dark months until spring. Garden.org recommends amaryllis, moth orchids, aloe, Christmas cacti, voodoo lilies, kalanchoe and clivia. You certainly deserve your own Valentine’s Day good wishes, it’s several studies show that the sight and scent of flowers can improve a person’s mood.
Image via: Houzz
Ditch the Clutter
After the holidays, many people complain of feeling claustrophobic in their homes. Gifts haven’t yet found a permanent place in the home, and they get mixed in with older household items that may have outstayed their welcome. Don’t wait until spring cleaning to get rid of the excess. Organizational expert Peter Walsh suggests creating a winter storage area in your basement or attic. You can also do this for spring and summer storage as well – the idea is to rotate items that are season-specific, so they’re inventoried, accessible and out of your hair.
This is a good time to gather any unused toys, clothes and appliances and follow this unofficial rule: If you haven’t used or worn it in a year, get rid of it. Donate items to charity or section off a place in your garage or basement for a yard sale this coming spring.
Keep it Clean
Clear off all your countertops – open counters give a clean and organized feel that can be refreshing in the winter months. Make it a habit to clear them off as part of your daily routine, maybe after a meal or when you pack the kids’ school lunches.
Next, clean off shelves, tables and other furniture, and give them all a good polishing. Not only does this remove dust and make things look and feel organized, but it will brighten up your space by bouncing what natural light is available around the room. Keep the inside of windows clean, too. A routine washing ensures that any available sunlight finds its way into your home.
Image via: Re4a
Brighten Things Up
If you want big changes, consider repainting a room or an accent wall. Add bold color – the bright jewel tones and neons the fashion world brought back last season are finding their way to home decor, and a fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into a room.
There are a wide array of luminous colors to choose from; think violet, azure, cobalt and fuchsia. Other shades like olive, slate and chalk can offer a room more depth and dimension. Also, consider hanging new wallpaper – there are some striking textures and metallic sheens on the market these days.
Walsh also suggests homeowners swap dark picture frames for white ones and displaying your children’s artwork, rotating every week or so. For smaller bursts of color, try using bold colors as accents on the inside of bookcases, hanging new curtains or using slipcovers over chairs and sofas. Buying some new throw pillows is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient fixes for a dark and dreary home. Conceal dark or stained pillows with a vivid throw-pillow cover to bring a punch of life and vibrancy to the home.
Your home is your retreat on wintry days, and it’s up to you to improve it to help fight the doldrums of winter.
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