Ten simple ways to beat the winter blues

I can't think of a better way to spend $5.99 than to purchase these little Iris reticulata.

It’s cold. It’s cloudy. It’s gloomy. In Oklahoma, we’re told we may get snow tomorrow.

Whoopee . . . let’s all break out our party hats.

Winter can be beautiful even without snow, but snow does soften what we don't want to see.

Snow would cover up some of the brown and gray of the Oklahoma winter landscape for a day or two, and it would help protect plants from the cold yet to come. However, in southern states, it is often hazardous because we don’t drive in it enough. Our street crews do their best, but it’s just not our norm.


Folks, we still have two and a half more months of winter fun. Are you prepared to beat the winter blues? Here are my top ten ways to squash them.

  1. Take a walk, or go to the gym. Exercise is one of the best ways to beat Ole’ Man Winter. Don’t forget to lift weights. You’ll need that strength for spring cleanup.
  2. Plan some time outdoors. Walk around the block, and if you live where it isn’t snowy, get down on your knees to gaze upon your garden at ground level. Marvel in its beginnings, those small shoots just peering above the soil’s surface; the pussy-willow-like coverings on the Jane magnolia’s branches. These foretell spring’s arrival. Who knows? You might even find buds on your hellebores.

    The leaves of Iris x hollandica 'Miss Saigon' are a hopeful sign.
  3. Stay Warm. Invest in soft warm clothes (I love flannel shirts) and warm Smartwool® socks. When you see the price, remind yourself they last forever, and that if you do go outdoors for more than a run to the car, you won’t freeze. The wind which whips down our plains is a cold one with no heart.
  4. Invest in light. Even if you aren’t badly affected by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), we all seem to get a touch of it when the days are too cloudy. It feels like the months of January and February have more than their fair share of cloudy days, so get a light box or try this nifty alarm clock my friend Robin told me about. I have full spectrum light bulbs over every reading chair in the house, but it’s important to buy those which have the proper day wavelength whatever that means. You need thirty minutes of light therapy everyday.
  5. Take good quality fish oil and eat wild-caught salmon, or other fatty fish twice a week. I take fish oil every single day, and the brand I use doesn’t have the fishy smell. In fact, it smells like lemons. I buy it at my local pharmacy.
  6. Learn something new. Ever wanted to knit? Take a class, or ask a friend to teach you. Would like to play the piano? Do it. I took lessons for over a year. I’m not good, but I can mark it off my bucket list. Want to know more about gardening? Read a good book like Duane Campbell’s Best of Green Space: 30 Years of Composted Columns. It’s a collection of Duane’s entertaining advice arranged by month. Although he and I don’t live in the same climate (he’s in the northeast), I just adjusted the monthly advice up a month when needed and learned a thing or two about saving money. My husband will be so glad.
  7. Read for pleasure and inspiration. Debbie Chester, who is an author herself, gave me a book by Beverley Nichols for Christmas, Down the Garden Path. What? You don’t know of Nichols? Although he died in 1983, he’s still an icon in British style and writing from the 1920s onward. With sixty books to his credit, it is his garden writing on which collective memory lingers.  Nichols’ wit was sardonic, and in fact, on the back cover photo of these books reprinted by TimberPress, he’s standing like he could just whip you and your garden into shape if you dared tempt him. In a newer publication, my friend, Kathryn Hall, has compiled her advice about gardening into a beautiful paperback, Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden, like her blog of the same name. Part garden column, life advice and autobiography, it, like Kathryn, is a good companion for winter’s chill (even if she does live in California, and I’m jealous).
  8. Buy yourself something pretty. If you’re a gardener, that probably means a plant, but it could also be a tool you’re itching to buy. I was at the grocery store this morning and purchased these little Iris reticulata for only $5.99. I almost bought a Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Shooting Star,’ and I may go back and get it later. It’s important to surround ourselves with beauty. It feeds our souls.

    A closeup of the little irises I bought at the grocery. A strong purple/blue to beat the blues.
  9. Eat healthy. I’ve been watching Martha Stewart’s recent shows about power foods, and I’m actually considering getting her Whole Living Magazine team’s new book, Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients. I haven’t decided, but isn’t the cover pretty? Even if I don’t buy it, I know eating healthy is essential to a good mood.

    Power Foods
  10. Feed your soul. All of my tips concern feeding your soul, but let’s take it one step further. Whatever your belief about God, (you know where I stand),  unplug your computer, iPhone, and other electronic devices and spend some time with your Creator today. As little as thirty minutes of quiet meditation does the soul and body good if only because we take the time to be grateful and remember from where we come.

I can quote you statistics, but we know we’re a fractured world which needs to unplug. I have dinner roasting in the oven, and I’ve reconnected with you, my friends. Now, I’m off to pray for a bit and then read before my children come home.

That way, when they come bursting through the door from school, and their father comes home from work, I can give them my full attention for a moment or two because I’ve spent some of my day tending to me.

Exquisite self-care is what helps gardeners survive winter. I hope you take time for you today.


  1. Cindy, MCOK says:

    For the second year in a row, we’re having more winter weather than not and I need to follow your suggestions!

  2. Laguna Dirt says:

    we don’t even really have winter, but one of my top tips would be to drink wine!

  3. kerri says:

    The pot of bright blue Irises is certainly a mood brightener, Dee. If I
    found them in a local store I’d definitely bring them home.
    Great advice. I especially like #10 and totally agree.
    I’m wearing my Smartwool socks on this frigid night and am so glad to have them! We’re going down to -18º or some such horrible number in the wee small hours. It’s extra blanket weather!
    Hope you get your snow. We have our fair share!

  4. Hi, Dee, Thank you so very very much for including my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden on your lovely list of chasing away the winter blues! So appreciated! Kathryn xoxo

  5. Kelly says:

    A beautiful post, Dee. Thank you!

  6. Layanee says:

    I will buy them! You have sold me and there is nothing better than an early spring. Great advice for winter’s doldrums.

  7. Hi, Dee;
    Great tips and I’m very curious about that book. Perhaps you’ll take the plunge and let us know if we, too, should buy it? 🙂

  8. Les says:

    It is not supposed to rise out of the 20’s here today. So I am headed to the museum for a photography exhibit, that will be my way of dealing with winter. Stay warm!

  9. Janell West says:


    It’s sunny outside as I write this so no winter blues here. But my how I loved reading your words. And seeing that pot of blue irises. Wonderful.


  10. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Having time for myself and my other interests is what I like about winter. Those blue irises are yummmy. Seeing them makes me want to go to the store to see what is available. This time of year I like to go to the local florist that has a small greenhouse attached to their shop. It smells so earthy and they have pretty pink, red and white blooming plants for Valentines day. Mmmmm it smells so goood and is a feast for the eyes.

  11. gail says:

    Dee, What a winter: we’ve gone from snow to rain and now snow! I so need to stop by a nursery or grocery store for a garden fix! A few bright blooming bulbs will be perfect. I couldn’t agree with you more about unplugging and spending time in meditative reflection. I find that walks in the woodland nearby is the best place to feed my soul and spirit. gail

  12. Sweetbay says:

    Great tips, Dee. Those Iris reticulata are a good deal! I put some in the garden last year and they are real charmers in early spring.

  13. Joanne says:

    I popped over from Nan’s Letters as your title intrigued me:)
    I love this list.
    No, I love, love, love this list and will print it off to remember on the days I feel blue. so far, I have not had time to as our winter has been lovely…but February and March haven’t arrived yet….:)
    May I share your link over at Seasonal Hearth?
    If not, no worries….

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Joanne, thank you for the kind words. Of course you can share the link on your site (which is beautiful btw). I’d be honored.

  14. Ginny says:

    Wonderful ways to beat the winter blues. I have some Smartwool socks and can say from personal experience that they are toasty! Reading, eating wild-caught salmon, going to the gym, taking a walk – I’m on board with all of those, too!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thanks Ginny. Don’t you love Smartwool if it’s cold. If it’s warmer, they are too warm. 🙂

  15. Dear Dee, I can’t wait to get into the books your recommend! I am sure they are all inspirational. But your tenth ‘simple’ way is most important! How wise you are! P x

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Pam. I try to do the tenth one every single day.

  16. cat says:

    So beautifully said and thought provoking…smartwool is the way to go for sure – even in Austin! And some colorful daisies were the splurge of the day at the grocery store! Absolutely, we must care for ourselves this time of year when we can’t get out and be grounded by our favorite connection with the earth.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Cat. So true about grounding ourselves. It’s hard in winter when you just want to grow things isn’t it?

  17. Leslie says:

    All wonderful, thoughtful and though-provoking ideas, Dee. I need to keep this list handy.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Leslie, thank you for saying so. I think you live your life that way.

  18. Diana says:

    GREAT stuff, Dee. We all need those reminders every now and then – thanks for sharing. My “One Little Word” for 2011 (a concept thought up by a scrapbook icon that I follow) is “simple.” And so much of your advice is just that. Appreciate the simple things in life. Unplug, relish in nature…all good things. I am so excited every day as I discover new little bulb shoots peeking out of the ground. And don’t you just love Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine – I’m a big fan. Wonderful post – hope you enjoy all of those things yourself!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Diana, I do like it, and I enjoy when that editor visits her show. I think I’ll keep the word “Simple” before me at all times through the year too. Thanks.

  19. Phyllis Miller says:

    Dee. can you plant the Iris outside after they bloom? And which grocery store did you purchsse them?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Phyllis, I bought them at the Homeland at 33rd and Broadway, and yes, I can plant them outside after the last freeze. Thanks for asking.

  20. Carol says:

    I bought a tiny little pot of Iris reticulata at the store the other day, too, though mine are still in bud so I have the flowers to look forward to. I also have more snow to look forward to tomorrow. Great advice you have given us here!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Carol, you bought them the best way. These were all open, and I like to purchase them better closed. Still, they were so pretty they were calling my name.

  21. Cyndy says:

    Dee, I love those repro edition Nichols books – so breezy and cheerful and funny, and the drawings are sweet. I agree especially with number 10 – spending time with our creator is the best restorative.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Me too Cyndy. What a nice way to bring Beverley Nichols to a whole new generation. Remembering to include God on our travels is always a good idea although a wise friend once told me to make sure God is taking me along. Something to think about.

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