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How to Make the Winter Days More Bearable

By George Hannan November 07, 2023 Mindset

The warm sunny months of summer have taken their leave now for another year. Summer holidays have gone for those of us living in the northern hemisphere. We face a longish spell before the buzz of expectation for the next holidays and warm sunshine brightens our days.

It’s not as bad as going to the dentist, but I, for one, also find it hard to feel as positive about the climatically less cheery months ahead.

Even though we’re not amongst the unfortunate group of people who are genuinely affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder), heading into the colder winter months is not particularly inspirational. Unless you’re very much into skiing or other winter sports, which my partner and I are not at this stage.

To beat the winter blues and help smooth and hasten the way to the brighter and warmer days ahead, we’ve decided to try a few simple things. You might give them a go yourself.

A Future Travels Plan

We need to get going on drawing up a short list of some possibilities for our next exciting trips or getaways, and when that might be.

It’s one of the best ways to keep the eyes and mind looking forward and keep the excitement of anticipation bubbling. The conversations around that should help blunt the winter blues.

This kind of planning works both for solo travellers and non-solo.

Everyone’s different, but for us it doesn’t have to be a mega holiday to some faraway destination. In fact, our most recent trip was a special offer on a short break to a wonderful historic city in the south of France. It was a fantastic experience and included not only exploring the city and local walking trails, but also hiring bicycles and a day cycling along wonderful canal pathways.

At the moment, we are considering a visit to the Azores, hiking in the north of Spain or possibly in Italy for some time next year. North of Spain is ‘next door’, so to speak, and the other two would be a fairly short hop by air.

As long as it’s exciting for us, we’re looking forward to it. That will help us to move on from the winter weather season to the next spring and summer when big adventures await.

Exercise and Activity

When it’s not great weather outside, I find it easy to lose motivation and be less physically active. There’s always an excuse, such as I’m trying to finish writing an article today, or I think that’s a rain cloud coming our way, and so on.

Of course, the double-whammy is the extra visits to the cookie jar and the refrigerator that being less active seems to bring on.

Between one thing and another, that’s worth ‘taking steps’, so to speak, to distract ourselves from.

So, staying active can’t be emphasised enough. And I mean sufficiently active to maintain cardio, respiratory and muscular condition. This not only helps our physical health but also our mood and mental health.

Everyone will have different ways to maintain good physical condition. Mine is walking, cycling and a few simple pieces of exercise equipment lying around the house where I see them and use them daily.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, unless one is a fitness buff. I have written a short article here on some simple and inexpensive home equipment that will help keep us in reasonable shape through the winter months.

Air and Sun

It wouldn’t be news that walking is fantastic for our health, both physical and mental.

There’s loads of info on the Internet about how much walking we should be doing, and we can check that out as a start.

We hear that we should target 10,000 steps per day on our step counter, etc. But let’s be clear, as far as I’m concerned, counting steps we do while pottering about the house doesn’t cut the mustard. Walking to the supermarket would be fine. But I would also dismiss shuffling about in the supermarket or other shops as irrelevant to what we’re aiming for.

What we need is jacket, hat, trainers or walking shoes on, out the door, and walk briskly and continuously for a period of time. The benefit is we’ll get cardio exercise, fresh air, and also daylight. The daylight is beneficial for our mood, and if the weather cooperates, direct sunlight on our skin provides Vitamin D, important for bone health.

My activity target, as a septuagenarian, is a minimum of two 5-kilometer walks per week plus one 30-kilometer cycle ride. Total time taken for those would be about four hours. Sometimes I do more, and sometimes less if the weather doesn’t allow. I also include some daily home exercises with medium weights and resistance tube, stretches and plank.

I’ve been quite active for many years. For someone starting an exercise routine or less accustomed to this level of exercise, it’s important to obtain advice from a professional trainer first.

So, let’s get out walking regularly and get some fresh air and sun. When we get over the initial inertia, it’s quite addictive and a huge boost to our general feeling of wellbeing. All helps with what we’re aiming for here.

If you haven’t been walking for a while, read HOW TO RESTART YOUR WALKING HABIT.

The Cerebral Side

Almost everybody watches TV. But can we take some of that time to spend on something more mentally active during the colder months? Chances are, we can.

Reading is always a great option, especially where it supports an existing interest or pastime. Amazon makes it so easy to browse every imaginable subject. And for those lucky few who still have a great bookshop close by, what a way to get lost in different worlds, especially when they have an in-store coffee bar! And let’s not forget to mention public libraries!

Many people also have aspirations to write, or maybe start a blog. There are endless online resources to help with this. For me, blogging has been a great source of creativity and learning.

Perhaps there is a hobby we have thought about for some time. Maybe now is that time. Or maybe we are already actively involved with a hobby that we can now invest more time in.

Possibly there’s a course we’d always wanted to do. Udemy has a fantastic range of online courses for just about anything one could be interested in. I’ve done quite a few. They are at a good level and are excellent value.


Maybe this should go right at the top of the article – those whose company we treasure and enjoy are paramount to our happiness. Doesn’t matter the season.

But as we head into the colder, shorter, darker days, there’s all the more reason to keep in touch and get together with these significant others. No matter what we’re doing, family, friends and acquaintances make it more fun and the time passes quicker.

Get-togethers over coffee, group supper out at the local restaurant, card or board game evenings. Limited only by our imagination and willingness to pick up the phone and make the call to arrange. So why not do it – it can help shorten the wait to the longer warmer days again!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What do your winter days look like usually? Do you experience winter blues? What are some great ideas to get the time to pass quickly until the long, warm, sunny days return?

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One of the best investments I made during the pandemic was to purchase an exercise bicycle. I’m one of those people who hate to exercise, but I “bike” twice a day for 20-25 minutes while watching a YouTube walking or traveling video. Time goes by fast & you don’t need that much exercise to make a difference!

George Hannan

Hi Holly,
Thank you for your comment. Your exercise bicycle sounds like a great investment in your health! That’s quite a routine, 2 x 25min per day! If you cycle during the good weather too, your winter exercise routine will be a big plus when the time arrives! :)


I too enjoy the change of seasons and appreciate what each has to offer. Winter does hold some challenges for me top of the list sun setting so early. I was thinking to eliminate some of the darkness I will decorate my back garden with little white lights. I already placed a bowl of artificial red poppies on an outdoor table. I’ve been enjoying seeing them and focusing on the bright cheery color instead of a bare sleeping garden. Winter is a time to relax after the hectic holidays and enjoy the quiet of a snow fall. Time to plan gardens and life’s warm weather adventures and of course catch up on all the books I started reading!

George Hannan

Hi Nina,
Thank you for your comment. Yes, the short days limit us a bit. We don’t get snow here, but when I was a kid we used to get quite a bit at my Dad’s farm. The quietness after a snowfall is always amazing! Enjoy your planning and reading – I’ll be doing the same :)


I live in Ohio and do get the blues occasionally in winter time. Joining the local Y was the best investment I’ve ever made. It makes me get out of the house and do some exercise. I am by no means a fitness guru, but I have fun getting my cardio and strengthening exercises done. It is a great mood elevator for me.

George Hannan

Hi Deb,
Thank you for your comment. You’re not alone – don’t we all get the blues sometimes :)
I agree, if we can move our bodies a bit, it works wonders for the mood. Big benefits from that small regular effort :)

Sandra Lee

I enjoy all seasons. I live in Idaho. We experience all the seasons and each one has its own appeal for me, personally. During the winter months I tend to stay indoors much more. I stay busy reading, watching t.v., doing my crafts, baking and cooking. I am not a people person, preferring my own company most of the time. I am blessed to still have my husband. All my children and grandchildren live close to me. I don’t get bored often. I am a slow person, and do not like feeling pressured. I lived a relaxed way of life, and being around overly busy people makes me feel anxious. I can feel anxiety in a lot of people, so I avoid those personality types. Winter is fine with me. I love the holidays and decorating my home for them.

George Hannan

Hi Sandra,
Thank you for your comment and it’s wonderful that you are so in harmony and at peace with your surroundings :)

Kay Solsbury

I live in a beautiful but gloomy winter state of Michigan. I look forward to a March getaway in Tucson AZ. Knowing I will be seeing the sun in the yuckiest Michigan month is encouraging!
Because I am out and about during the sunnier months I plan winter projects that I enjoy, new recopies, quilts, sewing new curtains, learning water color painting, etc. There are so many on-line classes it is hard to be bored.
I do exercise sessions at our local senior center or on line with Silver Sneakers.
I live about 8 miles from Lake Michigan. I go walk along the lakeshore a few times a month. It is a powerful lake and the waves or ice are refreshing.
Being a solo act can make the holidays a bit dull so I treat myself to “Countdown to Christmas” boxes from my favorite quilting and painting sites. Having a gift to open every morning through December is rather fun.
I also re-frame those gloomy days. I think of them as “soft days”. They hold their own beauty if you look.
I like to stay home and just snuggle in for a few days. Binge watch Hallmark movies or TV shows.
And….I have a snow service that shows up to plow my driveway!! Best investment ever!!!

Beth E Severson

Plow service. The Best Gift I ever gave myself. I’m in Minnesota.

George Hannan

Hi Beth, I see photos of my cousins in Mississauga in winter and can appreciate how helpful a plow service is! :)

George Hannan

Hi Kay,
Thank you for your comment, and what a great idea, your ‘Countdown to Christmas’! And I agree completely, include ourselves in our circle of kindness! :)

The Author

George Hannan is enjoying retired life in northern Portugal with his partner Tania. They prioritise healthy, active lives mainly through hiking and cycling in the beautiful Portuguese countryside. George is a keen reader. He also enjoys writing and blogging about health, activity and lifestyle, relating to people in their mature years.

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