23 Ways To Romanticize The Gloomiest Season Of The Year

If you’ve found yourself in the post-holiday slump, wishing away the rest of winter, this is your sign to start romanticizing the season.

By Caitlin Shaw5 min read
Pexels/Saliha Sevim

Because the beginning of winter is festive and merry with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve, the second half of the winter tends not to get a lot of love. In fact, January and February are the two most hated months of the year, with 31% of Americans reporting that January is their least favorite month and 18% claiming February. Possible explanations for these poor reviews include the cold temperatures, the sun setting early, and increased susceptibility to illness. 

If you notice that your mood is significantly lower in the winter, you could be unknowingly suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). About 5% of American adults have SAD and deal with it for 40% of the year, but a potentially larger percentage go undiagnosed due to a lack of awareness. SAD, also known as seasonal depression, is a medical condition in which a person experiences recurring depression-like symptoms as a result of the seasonal changes.

Common warning signs and symptoms of SAD include feeling anxious, empty, sad, guilty, or worthless for prolonged periods of time, loss of interest in everyday activities, extreme fatigue, changes in sleep or appetite, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, and more. If many of these apply to you, it may be time to seek professional care. For more information about SAD and ways to cope, click here.

Even if you don’t have SAD, the winter can still take a toll on your mood and energy levels in more ways than you imagine. That’s why it’s critical to begin embracing the wonderful aspects of winter and re-shaping your mindset when it comes to the cold season. Here are 23 different ways to enrich the winter season – at least one is bound to spark joy!

1. Learn How To Knit or Crochet

Knitting and crocheting are two of the most feminine winter activities. Snuggle up by a warm fireplace with your favorite French jazz playlist in the background, and you will be on your way to a romanticized winter. 

2. Day or Weekend Trip to a Cozy Town

Nothing helps me romanticize my life more than traveling. And while many of us strive to visit a tropical beach in the cold months, these trips can be expensive and far. Instead, embrace the winter spirit and visit one of these quaint towns around the U.S. Each one has so much to offer from skiing, great food, festivals, carriage rides, live music, and more.

3. Visit an Old Bookstore

Old bookstores scream winter to me. Pick out a stack of books and cozy up in a cafe or in the comfort of your living room and get to reading. If you’re looking for a wintery page turner, try Little Women, Harry Potter, Bear Town, or Down Comes The Night. (More inspiration can be found here.)

4. Make Yourself a New Hot Drink

One of the best ways to romanticize life is to make a drink to go along with your mood. January and February call for hot drinks like matcha, lattes, cappuccinos, and hot chocolate. If you spend time mastering your perfect winter drink, you may just end up falling a little bit in love with the season. For winter cocktail and mocktail ideas, visit

5. Invest in Some Winter Wardrobe Staples

According to psychological research, what we wear is more than a superficial choice – it can have true impacts on our mood and well-being. Owning the right seasonal clothes will make you feel more confident and ready to embrace the cold weather. (Think the Scandinavian proverb: There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.) So if you’re trying to get yourself in the winter mood, invest in a cozy sweater, a comfortable pair of jeans, or versatile black booties to get you through the next couple of chilly months. 

6. Decorate Your Space To Fit the Weather

Another great way to romanticize winter is by filling your apartment or home with wintery decor. In November and December, you probably garnish your home with Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations, but by January, your space could start to feel empty and a little bit sad. Decorate your home with large comfy blankets, wintery candles, and even a portable fireplace for an added cozy aura.

7. Complete a Winter-Themed Puzzle

Puzzling is one of the best winter activities – it’s relaxing yet still stimulating and is perfect to do with friends over cocktails or by yourself next to a fireplace on a snowy evening. Looking for wintery puzzles? Check these out!

8. Go Ice Skating

Instead of focusing on all the things you may not be able to do in the winter (i.e. swimming, boating, eating outdoors, etc.), reframe your mindset to appreciate all of the opportunities you do have in the winter. Find a local rink, grab some friends, and lace up your skates for a fun weekend outing.

9. Meditate

Meditating has profound mental and physical health benefits, including managing stress and anxiety, lowering your resting heart rate, and increasing focus. In enough time, this practice could help you combat SAD and leave you feeling more grateful for all that you have.

10. Teach Yourself a New Skill

Whether it’s learning a new language, a new recipe, or how to properly file your taxes, the beginning of a new year calls for fresh starts. Use this time to reset and learn something new that you’ve always been curious about or never got around to. Finding ways to be productive in your personal or professional life will give you purpose and help eliminate feelings of seasonal depression.

11. Get Sunlight As Much (and As Early) As Possible

One of the best ways to combat seasonal affective disorder is to get plenty of sunlight. If your mood is greatly affected by the changing seasons, try taking an early morning walk or purchasing a light box (a machine that imitates the sun’s rays). Both sunlight and light boxes have been proven to increase energy and reduce symptoms of SAD, such as constant fatigue or excessive sleeping. 

12. Try a New Heated Workout Class

Staying active is another effective way to combat seasonal depression and boost your mood. And what better time to try a heated workout class than in the winter? Exercising in the heat has added health benefits, such as burning more calories and loosening your muscles to help prevent injury. Try hot yoga, cycling, pilates, kickboxing, and more.

13. Make a Meal with Seasonal Ingredients

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “What produce is in season in January?” But trust me when I tell you that everything has a season. In fact, brussel sprouts, bananas, apples, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes all thrive in the colder months. Dishes like chili, vegetable soup, or chicken pot pie will help you embrace the winter mood.

14. Go Sledding or Skiing

Like ice skating, sledding and skiing are both activities that you can only do in the winter, so a day on the slopes is bound to help you romanticize this season. If you’ve never been sledding or skiing, let this be your sign to try it out! And if you learn that these are not your favorite activities, hanging out in a lodge and sipping hot cocoa will also help you romanticize winter. 

15. Visit the Movie Theater

From the Mean Girls reboot, to Sydney Sweeny and Glen Powell’s new rom-com Anyone But You, and Zendaya and Timothee Chalamet’s Dune: Part Two, there’s no shortage of films coming to screens over the next few months.

16. Give Back to Your Community

Homeless shelters and soup kitchens are stretched thin on resources in the winter as more people come in off the streets looking for warm clothes or a bed. Dedicate some of your time at a local charity or bring your unwanted coats and boots to a shelter for someone in need.

17. Set Goals and Journal

Setting goals will keep you forward-thinking and give you a purpose to work toward this year, and journaling regularly is a great way to self-reflect. Both of these can shape your mindset to be more positive and ultimately aid in coping with seasonal depression. 

18. Take Yourself Out to a Nice Dinner

Sometimes the best way to romanticize your life is to take yourself out to a nice meal. Find a cozy restaurant (preferably with a fireplace for added ambiance), and treat yourself to a hot meal with a glass of red wine this weekend.

19. Spend Time with Your Friends

Whether it's an afternoon walk, a movie night in, or a Sunday spent thrifting, spending time with your girl friends is a great way to boost your mood. But remember, in 2024, surrounding yourself with friends who make you a better person is in and draining, toxic relationships are out.

20. DIY Craft Night

Another great winter activity that will help you romanticize the season is crafting. Being creative will stimulate your brain, boost your mood, and has even been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Some ideas include making your own candle or painting a wine glass.

21. Practice Self-Care Regularly

Sometimes, all I want to do when the temperature drops is pamper myself with a fresh-scented candle and a hot bath. And the new year is a great time to reset your self-care routine or try a new technique. So paint your nails, put on a face mask, or relax in a bubble bath!

22. Unplug from Your Electronics

Another great practice to get into at the beginning of the year is unplugging from your electronics. Excessive time spent on social media can lead you down a rabbit hole of self-comparison and negativity – which can lead to a depressive-type mindset. Try putting your phone and computer away in the evening to give your mind (and eyes) a much-needed break.

23. Take Photographs of the Beauty Around You

If something makes you smile, it’s worth taking a few photographs to refer back to on a difficult day. Whether inside or out, there are so many beautiful aspects about winter. If you take a moment to slow down and notice them, you may even begin to appreciate the season.

Closing Thoughts

Don’t wish away the winter in anticipation of warmer weather – each season has its own unique treasures to appreciate. Instead, try to practice mindfulness and be present. And come back to this list of ways to romanticize winter if you need tips for how to stay positive during the next couple of months.

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