Winter is a difficult time for gardeners and non-gardeners alike, fraught with the cold and killing frost of midwinter. Caught in an icy grip, plants and flowers lay dormant under a layer of snow and the landscape is bleak and unwelcoming. During this period of dearth and darkness, it can be easy to retreat under a blanket of despair, but that doesn’t mean that your world needs to be dull. Here are several ways you can improve your mood during the darkest months of the year.
How to Prepare for the Winter Blues
The holidays, often touted as the season of joy, can be a period of misery, depression, and sadness for those who are facing burnout or loneliness – ‘tis the season to be melancholy. Those feelings of despair, exacerbated by the cold, may be symptomatic of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or it may be the winter blues taking hold. Whatever the case, it is useful to recognize the symptoms and take action. For severe cases of depression, a psychiatrist or psychologist is recommended.
General tips for coping with seasonal depression:
- Make time for movement: Exercise can improve your Circadian rhythm and promote wakefulness. Exercising earlier in the day rather than late at night will signal the appropriate time to wake up and begin your daily activities, resulting in more alert behavior.
- Be thoughtful and consistent about your diet intake: Make sure to monitor your daily water intake and drink enough – around 2 liters. Avoid sweets or caffeine products. Caffeine will delay sleep and result in a state of restlessness.
- Increase the amount of light: SAD, which can be triggered by loss of sunlight, can be remedied by light therapy. Light therapy provides an attractive alternative to medications and can prompt improvement with few side effects. It requires a light box or SAD lamp that emits 10,000 lux – a measurement of light intensity.
Complete DIY Craft Projects
Winter is a great time to start a new hobby or rekindle an existing one. Popular hobbies that don’t require you to venture outside include crystal collecting, knitting and crocheting, and reading and writing. Resourceful gardeners have even repurposed garden scraps – fallen leaves, flowers, and seeds – and turned them into innovative artwork. Several DIY gardening ideas for autumn are also applicable for winter, such as using dried flowers to create stickers and making ink from berries.
Browse Garden Catalogs and Websites for Inspiration
Get a head start on your spring garden by planning and designing out the basics. The type of plants to grow, the layout of your garden, and the materials needed in building a garden bed are all salient factors to address, and by starting early, you’ll be well prepared for the advent of spring. Simply browsing online garden catalogs and admiring the vibrant, colorful photographs can help brighten your mood. If you’re the romantic type, you will look forward to daydreaming of whimsical cottage gardens with trailing wisteria and fragrant blossoms.
Texas Gardening Magazine has created a yearly planning guide for gardens in the Gulf South, which is designed for use across the entire Gulf South (USDA hardiness zones 6b-10a). This magazine will provide tips on deciding what plants are best for your region, as well as how and when to plant them. It also provides some helpful information about tools that can facilitate the gardening process, as well as advice on starting out with modular raised garden beds.
Visit a Bookstore
Chrysalism is the lyrical term coined by John Koenig to describe the tranquility and peace that you feel when you’re indoors during a thunderstorm, an experience that is enhanced with books and coffee. Bookstores and libraries, considered islands of nostalgic solitude, are deliberately set up to foster an atmosphere of relaxation. While online catalogs and e-books are more convenient, the experience of holding a new book and breathing in the crisp scent is incomparable. When you’re feeling down, take a trip to the bookstore and browse the shelves for inspiration.
Create an Indoor Garden
If you have amassed an extensive collection of houseplants, are wanting to add a natural element to your home décor, or want to have more control over seed starting and propagation, consider constructing your own greenhouse cabinet. Similar to the Wardian cases of the Victorian era – an early type of terrarium that provided a safe space for exotic plants free from industrial pollution – indoor greenhouse cabinets create a controlled environment for displaying a number of indoor plants. Plants with tropical origins flourish in warm, humid environments, which a greenhouse cabinet can provide.
If this seems too ambitious of an endeavor, a simple terrarium composed of a glass bowl or closed container can be used to house succulents and other small plants. Air plants are also interesting houseplants that don’t require soil to survive.
Use Herbs to Treat Depression
For those seeking natural remedies in alleviating mental disorders, consider trying herbs. Used for centuries to treat ailments, herbal remedies and supplements have shown to be effective in treating depression and mood disorders. However, if those symptoms persist to the point that it interferes with daily function, seek help with a trusted healthcare professional. Ultimately, the content is for informational or educational purposes only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals.
Connect with Gardening Enthusiasts
Even those who prefer solace can get lonely without human interaction. Garden clubs and plant societies, often thought of as old-fashioned, having missed their heyday in the Victorian era, are still good sources of information and can help you deepen your knowledge. TikTok and other social media sites have online communities that can help you get started. To seek out like-minded gardeners, check out your local garden center or introduce friends and relatives to gardening.
Surround Yourself with Flowers
Whether it be repotting your plants or arranging a floral bouquet at home, surrounding yourself with the fragrance of flowers can greatly uplift your mood and freshen the air. While stuck at home, take advantage of the spare time and repot overgrown plants or propagate your favorites. Citrus and jasmine scents are good choices for adding natural aroma to your home.
It may come as a surprise that tangerines, lemons, and other citrus fruits can be grown indoors as houseplants. Vego Garden has a Rolling Planter Set that is well-suited for growing trees, and depending on weather, can be situated on the patio or wheeled inside.
Jasmine, a fragrant flower of the Orient, was once used to adorn the residence of kings. Not all jasmine plants are fragrant, but Jasminum polyanthum, a type grown indoors, will emit a sweet scent at night. It should be kept near the window so it receives bright sunlight.