I Finally Figured Out an Effective Way to Combat My Winter Blues

published Jan 4, 2024
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

For some people, winter is definitely not their favorite season. If you’re like me, someone who has been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), you don’t embrace the snow and chilly temperatures. Instead, for around half the year, you long for summer.

Between the months of November and March, I’m looking for everything I can do to basically replicate aspects of summer. While I do enjoy a fair bit of coziness, hot chocolate, and general hygge-like activities during the winter, summer is where it’s at for me. So instead of trying to ignore that pull toward the warmer months, I’ve figured out ways to make it come to life in the midst of the cold and ice. 

For instance, I love candles by the Vacation Inc. brand that smell exactly like suntan lotion. I visit an indoor conservatory that looks and feels just like a tropical jungle. And I’ve created something in my basement that I call my “summer room.”

Credit: Shelby Deering

There’s nothing I love more during the summer than going for a run on a hot day, with the sun warming my skin (wearing SPF, of course!) and listening to my summery playlist as I breathe in the scents and sights of the season. It’s what I miss the most during the dark days of winter when I’m at my lowest. 

So, I decided to attempt to recreate the experience in my own home. My house is small, so I knew all I had to work with was my windowless basement. It proved to be a challenge, but a couple of years later I can tell you that it’s worked wonders for my wintertime mindset.

First, I bought a treadmill and made that the centerpiece of my corner of the basement. I purchased a light bulb that mimics sunlight and brightens my surroundings. We have a couple of outdoor tropical plants that need to come in for the winter, so we created a little “garden” with them nearby and installed a grow light. I also put out some additional faux plants and seashells. 

And for the finishing touch, I added joy to the cheerless basement walls with the help of tapestries displaying summer scenes. The views of tropical greenery, the sun beaming over ocean waves, and a multihued sunset definitely does wonders for my mood. This year, I also put down a faux grass rug because I miss green grass so much during the winter. It feels great under my feet while I warm up for my workout.

I love knowing that when there’s a blizzard going on or it’s below-zero outside, I can just head down to my basement, turn on my summer playlist, and hit the treadmill. The basement can get a bit chilly, so sometimes I’ll bring down my Dyson Pure Hot+Cool™ air purifier heater to warm up the space. It feels like a warm breeze as I log my miles. And to really immerse myself in the experience, I’ll wear some Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen mist, not to protect myself from any rays, but just because it smells so good and reminds me of my summer runs!

If you want to create a “summer room” of your very own, you can use my basement blueprint for inspiration, although you don’t have to limit your creativity to large spaces. If I didn’t have a basement to work with, I’m sure I could have made the idea work in a nook or desk area. For a smaller area, you could fit in a mini treadmill, hang up a tapestry, and spritz a summer scent to capture the vibe. Think about what you miss most about the season that makes you happiest, and you can likely find a scaled-down way to channel it.

Credit: Shelby Deering

Until summer days are here again, my space in the basement will get me through. And for those fellow seasonal depression sufferers out there (or if you experience mild blues every winter), remember that a “summer room” alone likely won’t be enough to alleviate your symptoms — but a little daydreaming about summer never hurts.


If you or someone you know is dealing with depression and needs help, visit one of the following websites or call one of their helplines: