What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” -John Steinbeck

As with so many people, this is my least favourite time of year. We are all stuck in the post-holiday coma, and for some of us, it’s cold and grey almost every day. For those of you where it’s not, I am on my way. Many people plan a holiday at this time to get a little sunshine into their life.

The winter blues are a true ailment, known scientifically as Seasonal Affective Disorder: a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer, spring or autumn, year after year.

I am sure the "normal" state of my mental health can be debated at times, however, I know I get into a funk or a rut at this time of year. I have very low energy, nothing truly excites me, not even the thought of a naked George Clooney on my doorstep. I have more headaches and generally just become really "blah" towards everything and everyone.  This happens to me every year. I know it’s coming and I always make some changes to ensure that it doesn’t lead to anything more serious. Seasonal depression is no joke and can quickly consume your life if you let it.

Here are a few things I do every year around this time to try and keep a little spring in my step:

Feed the soul: Once a week, at least, I cook a tropical meal, complete with dessert and all the trimmings. I pick a fun hot country, find a recipe, cook it up and we have fun eating and learning about where our dinner came from. This helps in a couple of ways: cooking makes me happy and happy is good. Also these recipes tend to consist of fish, citrus and really bright-coloured foods -- omega-3 and vitamin D are extra important to your body during winter months. Invite people over to share this with you, being social is a great way to stay out of a rut.

Fashion cures: I know this may sound silly, but what you wear on the outside can really play a part in how you feel on the inside. My winter blues wardrobe is filled with hot pinks, tangerines and bright yellows. I never go anywhere without a pop of colour.

Walking on sunshine: I suck up every single sunny day that we get. I invested in a really warm long coat and a good set of head phones and I walk. I walk and sing and let the sun and wind, however brisk, hit my face. Again this is a win-win situation. Exercise helps with anything and music feeds the soul.

Let there be light: I sleep with my curtains partly open in the winter. It may just be me, but waking up to some light, no matter how dim, streaming into my room really helps me get out of bed in the morning. I read somewhere you can also put a lamp in your room on a timer to come on 30 minutes before you are supposed to wake up. Even the artificial light can help change the tone of your day.

Re-decorate: Of course! Why wouldn’t you? I know this doesn't sound very scientific and maybe a little silly, but think about it. You spend way more time in your home in the winter months, what a great opportunity to freshen it up. Paint a room or start a cool DIY project. The whole point here is to focus some energy and get creative.
Psst! Check out more great decorating ideas over on HGTV.ca.

Do you suffer from the winter blues? Please share how you get out of your winter funk in the comments below or on Twitter @slice_tv.

Dee Brun is the award-winning author of Libations of Life: A Girl’s Guide to Life One Cocktail at a Time, a cocktail chef and stylist, TV personality, home entertaining guru, writer, humorist, wife, mother of 4, TV Junkie, shoe-aholic, and borderline George Clooney stalker. Read her column, Isn’t it Deelightful, every Friday on Slice.ca.