9 Ways to Lift Your Spirits & Beat the Winter Blues, Lansing Style

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Are the Winter Blues Setting in? You’re Not Alone

SAD Touches Many in Lansing. If you or someone you love suffers in the winter, please talk to your doctor. There are professionals who can be working alongside you.

As a Winter blues and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) sufferer myself, I’ve found myself saying these things repeatedly over the years:

It’s too warm under these covers; I can’t get up.

I don’t feel like cooking; let’s just get take-out tonight (again!)

Sorry, all I want to do is hermit in right now. Maybe I’ll see you in April.

If the unpredictable weather, shorter days, and gloomy skies are making it harder to feel quite yourself lately, you aren’t alone. It’s not all roses and glam living that #momlife Instagram so easily portrays…

DYK? Winter Blues and SAD Aren’t Just Feelings

...they're a Medical Condition

Winter Blues affect about 20% of the US population

It’s primarily people in the northern states (hello there Michigan!)
that experience seasonal mood changes, commonly known as “winter blues.”

Out of these people, 6% have the more severe version, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

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For people with winter blues and SAD, winter can be tough. Throw in the stress of caring for little ones who are cooped up inside thanks to cold temps and seasonal sickness, and winter may feel downright unbearable.

For me, winter was so hard on my health that we finally decided to move to Florida. As expected, the year-round sunshine did wonders!

My symptoms were gone and I lived life as my healthy, summer-self year-round.

But, we wanted to be closer to family and roots here in Michigan. And now that we are back to living in Michigan, I’m back in the thick of the winter battle.

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BUT this time, it’s different.

While I was away, I learned a lot about SAD.

I came back with a different perspective and new hope, which eventually led to me starting a website and Instagram page dedicated to SAD sufferers like myself.

Thanks to our sponsor, Launch Entertainment Park.

Launch Lansing is the premier family entertainment facility in Mid-Michigan. With attractions like, dodgeball, ninja course, battle beam, launch pad, 25+ arcade games, laser tag, and the Krave Cafe, we will provide you and your family smiles and memories that will last a lifetime.

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Now, the Good: Winter Blues and SAD are Treatable

While we may live in one of the cloudiest states in the nation (and yes, last month was a doozy!) We also live in a city bursting with plenty of natural remedies to have you not only surviving but actually enjoying winter (and your life) again.

Activating the tips listed below has been a huge help to me.

This week we went to visit the horses at MSU and it was amazing how very calming it was.

Try the tips – they can be a day changer!

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9 Gloom Busters for Anyone with the Winter Blues, SAD, or Just Lives in Michigan in the Winter

Here are some tips on how you and your family can perk up winter right here in Lansing.

1 — Breathe in the (Purified) Air

In the winter, buildings are more closed up due to cold temps and drafty weather. Add in the dry heat pumping through plus natural pollutants that can’t be aired out, and you can end up with some pretty bad air quality.

The solution? Plants!

Plants are natural air filters that can improve air quality, and we have some great spaces here in Lansing where you can breathe in some plant-filtered fresh air.

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LIVING WALLS

Sparrow Health Center, located right in our own downtown Lansing, has a living wall in its Gathering Place (cafeteria). Grab a bite to eat next to this beautiful, living work of art.

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PLANT-INFUSED INDOOR SEATING

If you don’t already know Horrocks, one walk through this farm market is sure to lift your spirits for several reasons. Top on the list is their new indoor seating, with plants galore.

Located in the south end of the garden center building behind the gelato bar, this room is filled with greenery and light.

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NATURE CENTERS

Even throughout winter, evergreen plants abound along the trails of nature centers year-round. Lansing has several Nature Centers with trails, winter sports, and lots of wildlife to view. Check out Harris, Woldumar, or Fenner.

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PARKS

Lansing is home to some amazing highly-wooded area parks, which are great for finding sunshine and naturally purified fresh air.

Some of our favorites: Lake Lansing Park North, Fitzgerald Park, Hawk Island, and Burchfield Park. Plus, check out many more fantastic Lansing parks here

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2 — Follow the Light

The main reason for both the winter blues and SAD is the lower level of natural sunlight we get in the fall and winter. A solution: add some light! Daily natural sunlight is one of the first recommended treatments for winter blues.

Even just 30 minutes in sunlight – especially in the morning – can be enough to cure those who suffer mildly. As soon as you see the sun starting to peek, it’s time to get out there!

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GLASS-WALLED AREAS

We’ve already mentioned Horrocks indoor seating, but it’s worth it to mention again! Another great wall of glass to relax by is in the incredible Broad Art Museum on the campus of MSU.

While on campus, you can also grab dinner at Brody Square. Brody is a fun cafeteria for both students and families where everyone can choose from lots of different cuisines (picky eater heaven!) and eat next to large windows overlooking MSU campus.

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THE OUTDOORS

Head over to Lansing’s great area parks and nature centers or stroll MSU’s campus, the River Trail in downtown Lansing, or the streets of Lansing’s Old Town or REO Town.

Or, check out this article for 25 more ideas of what to do or where to go outside this winter!

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BRIGHTLY-LIT PLACES

I’ve had friends say that when feeling low, they head out to a store, and simply walking around helps. Target, anyone? Sure enough, lately I’ve noticed that after doing a Costco run, I feel better too!

A walk indoors under bright lights can instantly improve the mood. I recommend window shopping though, as this could become an expensive escape!

3 — Add Some Color

DO A MURAL CRAWL
We are lucky to live in a city rich with art. The latest proof is in our city’s wall murals; we highly recommend a mural crawl.

Best of all, this wall art is ideal to visit on a gray day, as the gray backdrop makes the colors really pop. Finally, a reason to look forward to gray skies!

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VISIT AN ART MUSEUM

The Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum is an incredible space, both inside and out. Check out their First Saturdays for families, entirely free.

My kids absolutely love this program, and any chance I get to walk into this space, I’ll take! It’s something to look forward to every month.

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MAKE ART

Tap into your inner creativity, pair it with some bright colors, and you can’t help but start to feel better. Paint your own pottery at Playing Picasso in Lansing, Art Unlimited in Okemos, or Clayworks in Grand Ledge.

Or, try out ALT printing for their screen printing classes and events. There’s always something new to try, and you can keep going back again and again because there’s always new art to create.

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4 — Spend Time with Animals

VISIT A HORSE FARM
Living next to campus has its perks, and the horse farms are one of them. MSU Farms are open to the public, and visiting horses is a favorite area family activity.

Horses are used as a type of therapy to help treat depression and anxiety, and we are fortunate enough to have access to these beautiful animals free of charge any day of the week. Bring your kids along with some apples and carrots for an unforgettable afternoon, any time of year.

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VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SHELTER

Spending time with animals is scientifically proven to help with depression. Spend time volunteering at an animal shelter to help lift your spirits!

Check out the Capital Area Humane Society, the Ingham County Animal Shelter, or New Hope Pet Rescue.

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VISIT THE ZOO

Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo has animals to see year-round. Winter also provides the chance to see some active and awake animals that may typically be sleeping through the summer heat.

potter park zoo, zoo, kids at zoo, lion, lion exhibit

5 — Exercise

Just in case you haven’t heard this before: exercise is good for you! And yes, when it comes to winter blues, the fact remains.

Exercise boosts serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals which can help fight off winter blahs.

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JOIN A GYM OR HEALTH CENTER

Gyms seem to be popping up on every corner around here lately, so your options are endless! Lansing classics are the YMCA, Court 1, and Michigan Athletic Club.

All offer childcare, classes, and a huge bonus for the winter months – indoor pools.

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PLAY WINTER SPORTS
Lansing has an abundance of fun winter activities and sports. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding are all ways to get your energy up!

Check out these area favorites for exactly where to go.

TRY YOGA

Yoga has been scientifically proven to help with depression. At the very least, it can help you relax and release some stress – and it’s a fun activity to do with friends!

Favorites in the area include MI Hot Yoga, Yoga State, and Just B Yoga.

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6 — Eat and Drink

Notice that you are craving carbs? People with SAD or winter blues especially crave carbs to get the needed serotonin boost. Or maybe you need coffee to give you an extra boost?

In moderation, the stimulant nature of coffee can be helpful to get through a winter day. Check out our favorite places below for the perfect sweet treat or cup of coffee – even better when served together.

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ENERGIZE WITH COFFEE

The Lansing coffee scene is growing like crazy, and as its residents, we are lucky to reap the perfectly-roasted-bean benefits. Local favorites like Blue Owl, Fosters, and Strange Matter pour a delicious cup, and also provide a cozy place to sit and sip in.

Can’t get out of the house but still want a delicious local cup? Craft and Mason ships their freshest roast to your house weekly.

Coffee Shops lansing strange Matter
TREAT YOURSELF…TO A TREAT

Serotonin, the “feel-good “neurotransmitter in the brain, is made after you eat carbohydrates. This may explain why we crave them more in the winter when we aren’t feeling as great.

It also may be why our northern-climate area is full of delicious options, with way too many to list! (Be sure to enjoy these with moderation though – too many carbs is also a reason for seasonal weight-gain.) If you need a place to get started, try Mitten Raised, Sweeti-licous, and Chapelure.

For the best bread, visit Great Harvest Bread Company, where you can get your carb boost with a free slice of bread every time you go in!

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7 — Live Hygge

Hygge, pronounced “hoo-ga” is a Danish and Norwegian word for the idea of coziness and comfort.

Think snuggling up by the fireplace, sipping a cup of cocoa on a cold winter day, or sitting around the table playing board games while snowed in.

Embracing winter can mean enjoying the simple things indoors.

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GATHER AT LOCAL BREWERIES

Craft beer is a huge part of Lansing culture, and gathering together around a seasonal brew provides a sense of camaraderie common to many Michiganders.

Lansing Brewing Company, Arcadia, and Hopcat all provide local brews and fun spaces – often with live music – to gather in. Bad Brewing Company in Mason has 3 heated igloos in the winter that can be reserved for a full Hygge experience.

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Photo courtesy of Rene E.

SHOP LOCAL

Local shops in Lansing Old Town District, REO Town, or East Lansing instantly give you a warm-and-cozy feel while browsing the local products and artistic items.

REO Town Marketplace is a gem that offers quirky and unique items in an fun-to-browse shopping maze.

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8 — Pretend You’re Somewhere Else

Sometimes you just need a break, and the last thing you want to hear about is another way to “embrace the winter.” I get it. On days like this, I need to escape to a place that feels like it’s summer, even when it’s not.

I used to go to a tanning salon and suck on a jolly rancher, and for 15 minutes was transported to the tropics, lounging on the beach with a fruity drink in hand.

Now that I’m older and wiser (and realize the UV Lights on tanning beds highly increase my skin cancer risk – yikes!) I opt for these other options instead.

GO SWIMMING INSIDE

Indoor pools can transport you to summer, with warm water, thick humid air, and not a jacket or mitten in sight! Goldfish Swim School offers family swim where you can escape to 90 (yes, a heavenly 90) degree waters and fun for the whole family.

During the winter, my family rotates between family swim here and the pool at the MAC, which is outdoors in the summer but enclosed in a dome in the winter.

The MAC has zero-entry for the littles and a water slide for the olders, making it a great pool for all ages. The YMCA, Court 1, and Hannah Community Center also have indoor pools.

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READ TO ESCAPE

When you really need to get away, a book makes it possible. Lansing area libraries are a fantastic option for getting out on a cold winter day.

They provide storytimes for kids, social and educational groups for teens and adults, and there’s always the option of bringing home a book to escape to another (possibly summery?) world.

Between the CADL, Delta Township Library, and East Lansing Public Library, there’s always a place to go and a new book to escape into.

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9 — Get Social

During the winter, it’s tempting to stay at home, hunker down, and isolate. But for those of us who struggle with feeling down in the winter, it’s important to push ourselves to connect with others. Once we do, it really helps.

mom groups friends with kids at a house meet ups in Lansing Michigan

JOIN AREA GROUPS
There are SO many groups available in our area to connect with other parents and people. This article on how to connect in the area can steer you in the right direction!

If you’d like to feel more connected and informed about winter blues specifically, I have an Instagram account and website dedicated entirely to SAD, with tips, helps, and encouragement.

I would love for you to join me on IG @sadtosunny, or visit sadtosunny.com. More resources, articles, and education will be coming soon to the site!

Do you have other favorite ways to beat the blues? Please share it with us in the comments below!

Spring isn’t far off Lansing, hang in there!

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