How I’m Battling Winter Depression with a Little Pampering

Today’s post isn’t my typical home décor inspiration. Instead, I’m sharing how I’m battling winter depression because I figure there are probably other people out there who also suffer from seasonal depression. I always struggle this time of year due to shorter days and cold, blustery weather that keeps me indoors for far too long.

I miss my flowers, the fish in my garden pond, the long days, and the sweet, warm breezes of summer. Having the house closed up with all the windows shut bothers me too. Although I have to confess I did crack my bedroom window open one night when the temperature was in the low 40s. I could actually smell the earth. It was a little intoxicating.

Golden Butterfly Koi Swimming Next to James Brydon Waterlily


In the summer, I sometimes have “nightmares” of it being winter again. I wake up in a very mild panic only to be reassured that it’s still July and everything is green and beautiful. That’s how much I dread winter. When I found myself wanting to go to bed earlier every day, I knew I had to do something to snap out of the winter funk.

This year I decided to be more proactive and create a plan of attack against suffering from seasonal depression. I mulled over what positive things I could do to improve my lethargic situation. The first thing I did was treat myself to a big splurge and booked a trip to Hawaii for late February. I’ve never been to the 50th state and it’s the most I’ve ever spent on a vacation, but I decided my mental health is worth it. I don’t mean to boast, but truly, I needed something drastic to snap me out of my funk.

beach in Hawaii


My birthday falls in February so I’m making a pact with myself to always go somewhere warm to celebrate. We live halfway between the Chicago airports and the Rockford airport. If you fly out of Rockford on a weekday, you can get really cheap flights to various places in Florida. So next year, I’ll book a cheaper vacation. And then once in a while I’ll splurge again. But for now, I’m looking forward to exploring Hawaii’s island of Kauai. I decided on Kauai after talking to a friend who has visited every Hawaiian island. It’s the Garden Island and I’m anxious to see all of its raw beauty.

Mist over Wailua Falls


Now that Hawaii is booked, another positive thing I’m doing to battle winter depression is eating healthier. Two years ago I lost weight on Noom, but eventually gained the weight back (same old story). As I get older, I’m more conscious of health choices and have switched to a mix of a Mediterranean/Mexican diet, which isn’t really a diet at all. It’s just a matter of eating mostly vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains, fish, legumes, and healthy fats like olive oil.

Greek tacos - Mediterranean food


I’ve been eating this healthier diet for four weeks now and have lost seven pounds. It hasn’t been hard to stick with it. My main struggle with eating is binging at night while watching television. I can eat like a bird throughout the day but there’s something about the evening hours that make me feel like eating. I’ll switch between sweet and salty foods – specifically goldfish crackers and peanut M&Ms (which don’t really feel like food at all because they’re both so highly processed).

I’ll sit in front of a favorite show and eat goldfish crackers. Then I want something sweet to balance the salt. And then I’ll want something salty to balance the sugar. It was becoming an unhealthy and vicious back and forth for me. Now if I need to snack, I slice up an apple and dip it in a bit of peanut butter, which I measure out so I don’t eat too much of it. However, I’m trying to break the habit of snacking in front of the T.V.

I’ve learned that I can’t have any junk food in the house because I’m too tempted to eat it. I take a grocery list to the store with me and stick to what’s on the list. It takes discipline, but I use the trip to Hawaii as motivation. I figure I’ll be able to do more hiking if I drop the extra weight. There are plenty of trails on the island of Kauai and we plan to go kayaking, too.

Napali Coast - Kauai, Hawaii


So far my strategy is working! Healthier food gives me more energy throughout the day, along with a better night’s sleep. The upcoming trip is my motivation to stick with it.

Breaking harmful habits can be really hard to do. Once those habits take hold, it can be difficult to find the motivation to shake them. My hope is that I can continue to focus on better health after the trip is over. I’ve given up processed foods for the most part and cook a lot from scratch, which I have to do on the weekends since I work during the week.

If you’ve been to Kauai, I would love to know what you enjoyed about it. Did you find a favorite restaurant, or a charming place off the beaten path? Let me know in the comments below!

Click here for more tips on battling seasonal depression.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. One year we were in a drought and everything was brown. We went to Pennsylvania and everything was so green .I cried. I did not realize how down I was unti

  2. I can totally relate, Jennifer, as I live in Michigan in the Upper Peninsula and seasonal depression is a huge struggle for me. This year, however, I’ve also been eating much healthier, but I feel the biggest thing I’ve started is my fitness program. I’ve invested in some weights, yoga blocks, resistance bands, and yoga mat and work out from home for 30 to 45 min. 5 days a week. And it’s made a HUGE difference in how I feel. I’m much stronger, I’ve lost about 7 – 8 lbs. and I feel so much better too. Also, I try and get outside most days for 20 to 30 minutes. I am also looking forward to going somewhere warm in mid February. I would love to go to Hawaii also but instead we’ll be heading to Arizona to meet up with friends with our 5th wheel travel trailer and do some camping. Thanks, I’ve enjoyed your posts for quite a while now. Keep posting!

    1. You sound like me, one big positive is that I am on a Medicare Advantage program and get a free gym membership, which I am using at my local Y- Silver Sneakers workouts and yoga of all kinds, plus the pool. I am so lucky. And I also walk as much as I can if the weather allows. Also set up a small, inexpensive home gym that I make myself use on bad weather days. some DVD walking indoors programs too. I am single, no trips to the south planned, but making progress. You go, girl!

  3. Jennifer, I know you will love your trip to Hawaii! I know your reward / birthday gift will lift your entire soul. With you love of beauty , nature, people your senses will be on overload!
    Thank you for always sharing your gifts to enjoy and incorporate into our homes.
    I will pray for your safety, good physical and mental health on this grand adventure. Sb

  4. Wow! You pretty much described me to a T. Have the same sweet/salty switch at night.
    Doing intermittent fasting and that helps me lose but it is a struggle especially during dreary winter months. Have taken off about 35 lbs but gained back 15 during holidays, need to focus on me and what I eat again.
    We visited Kauai about 20 years ago and it is lovely but was a little rainy so be prepared. I would look up restaurants on Diners, Driveins and Dives website to see if they have any recent stories about Kauai restaurants. Wishing you a wonderful Birthday Trip.

  5. Thanks for sharing your struggles … I’ve experienced these same challenges too. You’re going to love Hawaii! I’ve never been to Kauai but all of the islands are lovely. I’m looking forward to reading about your trip when you get back. Take lots of photos.

  6. Hi Jennifer
    If you are renting a car on Kauai, get the Shaka Guide – Kauai Road Trip Audio Guide. It’s an app that you download to your phone and it plays through the car audio. They recommend great places to stop on your adventures, and share some history of the area and play Hawaiian music. Enjoy!

  7. That is so exciting! I am so happy for you! Please be sure to write some posts about it so that we can get ideas. I hope to go there some day too!!

  8. Guess I’m one of those rare birds that enjoy winter. After all the fuss of the holidays (which I love and enjoy), I do look forward to down time. I read, do puzzles by the fireplace, organize “stuff”, bundle up and take walks, see friends for lunch (yep, I’m retired) and pretty much do a lot of nothing. Our NJ winters are generally pretty mild and nothing like the harsh Midwest winters where I grew up so that helps with my mindset. But I will say, by March I’ve had it. Then I yearn for spring and all it has to offer. I love something about every season. We do go occasionally to someplace warm in the winter and it is nice for a break. Your trip to Hawaii will be just the medicine You need. Enjoy!!!!

    1. Hi, I am in upstate NY, think Syracuse and Utica, NY. I am doing ok with our winter so far, except the ice- for example, the schools all closed early, it is just an ice rink here. Otherwise, I love my CNY home.

  9. Wow, you sound like me! I struggle with night time eating, too. I don’t think I eat enough during the day and by the end of the day I’m starving! I also think it’s a way to self soothe. I’ve never minded the cold and snow of winter, just the darkness. I live in lower Michigan and we can count the number of sunny days in the last 2 months on one hand. In Dec., we had 5 minutes of sunshine! Being with my kids and grandkids help, but enough is enough. We need some sun! I’m so happy that you can go to Hawaii. I’ve been to Oahu and the Big Island. What I love the most is the gentle air and the scent of flowers. It’s truly a beautiful place. Have a great trip!

  10. I’m the total opposite. I have seasonal depression during the summer. I stay indoors during that time and peek out once fall arrives. I’ve never been a beach person…I do love visiting our Chicago beaches during the winter months and at Lincoln Park Zoo the polar bears, penguins, seals and sealions are having fun outdoors. I do love seeing pictures of gorgeous beaches and crystal blue waters. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I’m sure you won’t have issues finding fresh and healthy foods. Enjoy your trip!

    1. My oldest son has what you describe. He is loving life in Portland OR. Although that climate has changed now.

      1. Your poor son. I wanted to live in Seattle but I’d miss the food in Chicago too much. My son lives in Seattle so I get to stay with him every so often…he misses the food in Chicago, too. LOL! I do love Seattle weather and I’ve been to London as well, also my kind of weather. I hear Portland, OR is awesome.

    2. I live inland of Los Angels where the summer is ENDLESS, or so it seems to me. I savor every second of our winters. I love wearing jackets and seeing some dark clouds, and the rain is so exciting!! So I, too, struggle with seasonal depression just in reverse.

  11. When we were in Kauai we took a helicopter tour of the island. That was amazing. I think it’s my favorite island. Enjoy.

  12. Hello Jennifer!
    Greetings from the upstate of South Carolina! I’m so sorry that you are having a hard time with winter depression.

    I traveled to Michigan several years ago during the early summer, and it was absolutely beautiful! However, I can only imagine how hard the winter must be, so please don’t feel guilty for heading to a warmer climate for a reprieve! You should know that many of my neighbors moved here solely because they didn’t wish to spend their retirement years dealing with the cold weather of their home states. Please feel free to come down to see us when you need a break from winter!

    God bless!

  13. Sounds to me like you need to move to the south. It’s 70 here today. I live in South Georgia. Would love to have you 😁

  14. Hi, the struggle with winter is real! Sounds like you’ve figured out a way around it in very positive ways. For the late night snacking, try sugarless chewing gum instead. After dinner, I want to eat all the sweets so i pop some gum in my mouth instead. Have fun in Hawaii!