Yes, I just made a Game of Thrones reference… and I am talking about winter just a few days after the first day of fall. But, that’s what fall means to me. It means that winter is coming. It means that it is time for me to refocus on my strategies for beating the winter blues, and help my clients push through the darkness as well.
It is about this time of year that I break out the Vitamin D for my family and begin to include it into our morning ritual, per instructions from our doctor. Now, I am not a doctor and cannot prescribe a remedy for SAD or the “winter blues”. What I can do is share what has helped me and what I have done for clients over the years to use interior spaces to contribute to a cheerful atmosphere, regardless of shorter days and limited sunshine.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that many in the Pacific Northwest deal with every year, and I cannot tell you how many clients I have had express concern. Gray walls are a concern, because everything is so gray outside.
Because this impacts us in the PNW so much, I am going to spend this month focusing on the items below with more detailed posts along with Pinterest boards and articles that go into more detail on each!
Allow some gray inside
One thing I’ve discovered in my own seasonal blues, is that contrast, candlelight, reflection, and ambient glow does wonders. I yearn for a connection to the outdoors on dreary days where I’m chilled to the bone and do not want to step outside… so I painted my walls gray to pull the exterior inside. I find that on sunny days, it helps me feel cool and on cold winter days, it expands my space, providing the opposite of the dark cave effect.
Create emphasis with contrast
I have also heard concern that dark wood may make things feel darker in our shorter days. However, I find that it does the opposite in the right space. The dark wood provides contrast, where washed out spaces feel just as washed out as our dreary wet days. Emphasis created with contrast does wonders for a space.
Create socializing space
One of the things we feel a lack of during the winter months is socialization. Where we had barbecues, marshmallow roasting, hiking and swimming with friends, we now plunk down in front of the television (or computer) and avoid going out. This year, try organizing your space to encourage more social interaction. Make this the year you hide the television, or create a “no-screen” space. Fill this space with board games, card games, and puzzles. Provide intimate lighting that brings light to the faces of companions and enjoy social time with friends and family.
Update your light bulbs
This one is a fairly inexpensive fix, and one you’ll be happy with in the longterm. I like a cooler light for the general lighting (recessed cans and flush mount ceiling fixtures), warm it up a bit for the next step down (chandeliers and pendants) and a nice warm intimate light for floor lamps and table lamps. I do tend to break this rule in a couple areas, however. I use cooler bulbs in the floor and table lamps that light the darkest corners of my home. Here is a nice simple guide to selecting the right bulb for your fixture.
Bring life into your space
Plants do so much for us in our home, and yes, I know that many of us are black thumbs (like myself- I managed to kill my lovely air plants simply because I forgot about them!), but even if it means an inexpensive indoor plant that can be replaced. Sometimes the more plants we have indoors, the less likely we are to forget about them and let them go. The text, “Why We Get Sick” (image below) tells us that plants have a direct effect on our moods, generating happiness. Who can argue with that?!
We are starting to be inside more and more, and while spring is the popular time of year for the big clean, I recommend doing this in early fall as well. We’re about to be inside our homes rather than out in our yards, and no one wants to be overcome by clutter.
Convert that unused “storage room” into a home gym
I have never been a huge fan of exercise. Regardless, I recently joined a CrossFit gym, started running occasionally, and do yoga once a week. Confession… I lose my interest for the running when the gray months and shorter days kick in. I am just not eager to step outside into the wet blech. I love the idea of a home gym (if it is used!), and what better use for that room (many people have one) that just stores “stuff”. Use our purging tip to clean out the clutter and allow this space to be a healthy space rather than the dark cluster of junk that it usually is!
turn on some flicker
While I’m not much for the gothic candle-crazy spaces, I will say that candlelight does so much for me on a dark day. A single candle on my desk as I work, a flicker out of the corner of my eye, or the warmth from a wood stove. They all give me some warmth, but more than the warmth, I feel life from them, a sense of radiating energy that is exactly what I am desperately seeking this time of year.
Consider a bold piece of art
I saw the most wonderful neutral space recently with an amazingly bold and brilliant piece of art. What joy that art brought to the space!! This goes back to the idea of contrast, do not allow your space to wash out.
Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors! Did I say mirrors? Place mirrors on walls adjacent to windows and approximately equally spaced from the corner to replicate the feeling of additional windows. I love mirrors in dark corners, like a gallery wall, but a corner mirror collection to allow light into the corner and move it through the space. Reflection brings life into dead spaces. And, let’s face it- the winter feels dead and what we are desperately craving is life, energy, and light.
Comment below with your own approaches. Tell me which of the above you intend to use! Let’s all promise to not let the winter get to us. This year, we will embrace it, and blow through it!
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