10 Amazing Ways to Brighten Up Dark December Days and Nights

Seasonal affective disorders, mood disorders that come up at certain times, impact millions every year. Depending on where you live, you can have up to a 25% chance of experiencing it. Negative effects on mood are most common on long, dark December days and nights, where the cold and lack of light can make life miserable.

Dark days lead to long nights – source

Here is vital information on seasonal affective disorder, particularly the seasonal depression that comes up in the winter. Plus, check out 10 lovely ways to help brighten those dark December times.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)is a type of depression related to changes in seasons. It starts and stops at similar times a year, usually around fall and continuing on through the winter months. Once spring and summer roll around, you usually start feeling better.


Symptoms of SAD include lack of energy, loss of motivation, increased irritability, moodiness, anxiety, stress, and depression. You may even feel as though you are sleeping too much, lack concentration, or have lost interest in things that matter to you. Some people may experience a change in appetite, eating too much or too little. There is no need to ignore these feelings, as there is light at the end of even the darkest December days.


Typical treatments for SAD include light therapy in which individuals purchase and use artificial light intended to replicate sunlight. Other options include medication, or habitual daily changes that consistently work to improve or at least mediate symptoms. Make sure you reach out to your doctor if you need to, seeking help is important for anyone who is struggling.

10 Ways to Brighten Up Dark December Nights

Here are well-proven strategies to cope with seasonal episodes of depression. Apart from a lack of light and an increase in cold weather, the holiday season can also increase stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Use these lovely techniques to increase mental wellbeing during these long and dark December nights.

1. Exercise

Exercise has many benefits, most of which have nothing to do with changing the way you look. It can increase dopamine in the body and boost other happiness chemicals greatly. Try to go on a short daily walk, do some bodyweight exercises, or join a gym with a friend to keep you accountable.

2. Set Goals

Setting goals throughout the month, either in a monthly reset practice, a journaling habit, or a daily list you read out. Try to set monthly goals, weekly goals, or even small daily goals to give the mind something to work toward. Make sure to reward yourself after a job well done too!

3. Social Media Detox

Social media is known to lower mental health as it increases your habit of comparing yourself to others. It is full of the best moments of someone’s life through filters and camera angles. Plus, it puts our mental dopamine out of whack which can lead to lower mental wellbeing. Put down the tech every so often and be in the moment more.

4. Sneak in Some Light

Light therapy is one of the most common treatment options for SAD. Light therapy can help to regulate the production of melatonin, a chemical responsible for sleep schedule regulation. Some prefer dawn light imitation or even red light, so try some out and see if it helps.

5. Connect with Loved Ones

We as a species thrive on social experiences. Even if you are an introvert, you may benefit from reaching out for a one-on-one chat or dinner with loved ones. It is important to know that people have your back when it gets a bit rough.

6. Mindful Moments

Mindfulness is a good habit that can lower stress, reduce anxiety, and increase happiness chemicals like serotonin. It can also lead to reducing the flight or flight instinct that takes over when we are under pressure and can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, calming us down and reducing stress.

7. Journal in Gratitude

Practicing gratitude daily can increase your baseline happiness leading to a fuller, more positive life. Journal daily and practice being thankful for what you have. It can be something as simple as having a place to sleep, the sunlight, or something as big as getting a promotion or spending time with someone you missed.

8. Warm Up

Literally. Being warmer can actually help you perceive others as kinder while enabling you to act as a warmer person as well.

9. Loving-Kindness Meditations 

Meditations in general can change your brain for the better, leading to more emotional control and cognitive thought. This type of meditation though has those benefits while also helping you to focus on the positive side of people and yourself.

10. Fuel Your Inner Child

Do activities that you enjoy, even if it’s things you liked to do as a child. Play in the dirt, climb a tree, or rake all the leaves up just to jump in the pile. Try fingerpainting, watching a funny movie, eating candy for dinner, etc. 

Bonus: Random Acts of Kindness

Volunteering or even just doing something nice for someone else makes the person receiving the favor happy and can make you feel good too! Try to extend a hand out to someone who needs it, give it to others who need it, or even just pay for the cup of coffee of the person behind you. Every random act of kindness counts. If you want, you can make it a bigger event and go volunteering as much as you can, take part in a run for charity, or donate to an organization.

The Takeaway

These are small ways to make your day just a little bit brighter every chance you get. Try them out and cultivate good mental health even when dark December days are upon us. Remember to seek out professional help if needed. We are not alone and can all use a helping hand sometimes!

Remember that health comes from within, so eat well, exercise daily, and care for your mental health. Our daily habits become the building blocks for emotional, mental, and physical health. Try to take care of your gut health too! Learn everything you need to know about gut microbiota today for free here.

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