Beauty Rituals To Help Nix The Winter Blues

The days are finally getting longer, yes, but with Old Man Winter indefinitely tap-tapping on your windowpane, it’s hard not to develop a case — however big or small — of the winter blues.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's generally more severe in the winter months. “The ‘winter blues’ are less severe, but can still cause havoc in your daily life,” says Jennifer Howard, PhD, a New York City-based psychotherapist. “Many people might feel tired, a little down, or want to stop work at 3 p.m. Maybe they find themselves sleeping and eating more, or socializing less. Maybe they feel blah, but they don’t have full-blown depression.”

If you’re habitually feeling depressed, we highly recommend consulting your physician. But if you're suffering from a winter slump, things like adding a little more light to your life or planning a girls' night of pampering could help, too. Ahead, some little beauty rituals that will help you feel better.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Light Therapy
Since a lack of sunlight is one of the leading causes of SAD and the winter blues, it only makes sense to incorporate more light into your life. You can start by opening your blinds completely first thing in the morning, and by spending time outside whenever possible.

“Some experts believe this lack of sunlight increases the body’s production of melatonin, which helps regulate sleep and can cause symptoms of depression. Therefore, going outside for at least 15 to 20 minutes during daylight hours every day can help decrease these feelings of depression,” advises Dr. Jephtha Tausig-Edwards, a New York City-based clinical psychologist.

You can also try full-spectrum lightbulbs and light boxes, or even undergo LED light therapy. There are LED devices, or SAD lamps, you can purchase and use at home. You can also seek out a local spa that offers the treatments. LED light boosts serotonin levels and can improve the skin, making it a double-whammy treatment.
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Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
Luxury Bath
The phrases “treat yourself” and “self-care” may be overused, but they're still worthwhile mantras to heed. Deliberately setting aside time to pamper yourself is crucial to your well-being. It can help you feel more grounded, in control, and cared for — so go ahead, darling, #treatyoself.

One way is to indulge in a luxury bath, complete with lots of bubbles, mood lighting, relaxing music (or a self-help podcast or audio book), a deep-condition, and perhaps a mani-and-pedi to follow. Choose products that have soothing, aromatherapy benefits, and don’t forget to cozy up in a soft bath towel and robe — and then, your warm bed.

Remember: Though winter can be dreary, it also gives us a chance to snuggle up with ourselves and be more introspective. Embrace that downtime when you’re able to.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
“Aromatherapy can help lift one’s mood or increase a sense of calm and well-being,” says Dr. Tausig-Edwards. It’s not a cure-all, of course, but it can certainly help you feel better and is easy to incorporate into your daily rituals. For example, light an aromatherapy candle when you get home from work, or keep one burning during your Saturdays at home. You can also use an oil diffuser, or wear aromatherapy oils and lotions during the day.

Choose scents based on what kind of mood you want to inspire. If you want to feel calm and relaxed, try lavender, which has been linked to treating anxiety and insomnia. If you want to feel invigorated, try peppermint or bergamot.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
A Makeovers & Gratitude Party
It may lean campfire-cheesy, but an old-school gal-pal retreat — even if it’s just for an afternoon or evening — could brighten your spirits. Gather a group of your closest friends and ask everyone to bring her favorite cosmetics and a notebook. Healthy, non-sugary snacks and a solid playlist are also good ideas. For this type of party, it might be good to skip the alcohol since it works as a depressant, but of course that's up to you.

From there, carve out two portions for the party: a makeover session and a time to share your thanks. For the makeup part, try re-creating zany looks from magazines or Fashion Weeks, or follow along with YouTube tutorials. Laughter is sure to ensue.

As for the gratitude portion, Dr. Howard says you should use this time to “celebrate all of the victories in your lives and to acknowledge all that you might have overcome.” Sometimes we forget about how amazing we are, and talking about it with a close circle of friends not only helps remind us of our strengths, but can foster closer relationships. That, in and of itself, is a mood-booster.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Meditative Spa Treatments
While a deep-tissue massage is always a fine option, consider broadening your horizons when checking out the local spa menu. You’ll find that many offer alternatives to the standard deep-tissue, Swedish, and hot-stone massages. These alternatives weren’t haphazardly thought up, either. They were crafted and placed on menus to soothe, relax, and improve your spirit.

For example, you could try an aquatic massage, such as Watsu, which is not only supremely gentle on your body, but leaves you feeling relaxed and nurtured. Other meditative treatments include hypnotherapy, labyrinth/walking meditation, acupuncture, guided meditation, and chakra meditation. And, of course, a yoga session (try traditional, hot, or aerial) can lift your spirits and help you feel more in tune with yourself.
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