How to start a new hobby and beat winter blues

Did you know that 10 million Americans experience Seasonal Depression every year? Also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD (how fitting), the mood disorder is characterized by a major depressive episode that occurs during the fall and winter for at least two years in a row—and includes symptoms of lost interest in once enjoyable activities, fatigue, appetite changes, and more that affect daily life.

Types of depression in winter months

Though this form of depression is commonly treated with any combination of counseling, light therapy, medication, and lifestyle change—there are many milder forms of SAD that commonly go untreated by the 10-20% of Americans who experience symptoms. Known as the “winter blues,” these milder forms of SAD are four times more likely to occur in women, and are more common the farther away you get from the equator. Though the winter blues are harder to diagnose and treat by a medical professional, there are plenty of things you can do to combat the feelings of low energy and apathy that many of us experience when the days are shorter.

Things you can do to stay happy and healthy this winter

The decrease of natural sunlight and vitamin D in the winter can lead your body to produce less serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates mood and promotes happiness) and more melatonin (a brain chemical that promotes sleep). In other words—it’s normal to feel more tired than usual! A good way to combat this is by investing in a sunlamp that mimics natural light to re-balance your natural circadian rhythms and give yourself a boost in vitamin D. You can also buy supplements of the vitamin, but we suggest talking to your doctor before working that into your routine.

When the sun does come out, bundle up and take a walk! Not only will you get that much-needed exposure, you’ll also get the glorious benefits of exercising! According to the Harvard School of Public Health, just one hour of walking (or 15 minutes of running) a day reduces the risk of a depressive episode by 26%.

Treating SAD with a new hobby

Challenging your brain is one of the best ways to keep your mood, energy levels, and executive functions healthily regulated. The simplest way to do that? Find a hobby! I like to define a “hobby” as something you activelypursue for the sole purpose of enjoyment. This is quite the broad definition, but take notice of the bolded word in that sentence—I did this because it’s very important to classify a hobby as something that requires a bit of a challenge or learning on the front-end. 

Hobbies are for leisure, but they don’t always feel that way, especially when you’re first starting out! Finding an indoor hobby to pursue and enjoy will not only help kick your winter blues to the curb, but will also make your life in general more fulfilling and stress-free. Don’t believe me? Check out these facts and statistics!


  • A 2020 study from Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that engaging with a hobby had a positive effect on adults with self-reported depression, helping them to feel more relaxed, energized, and inspired.
  • The Society of Behavioral Medicine suggests that people who take part in leisure activities experience less stress and can even lower heart rate while engaging in them.
  • Scientists in New Zealand have found that participating in creative activities such as writing, playing music, making visual art, or knitting/crocheting lead to positive feelings of wellbeing that lasts until the next day.

Why you should consider the piano as your new hobby

If your answers pointed to music one or more times as a starting point for a hobby, then not to worry—learning to play an instrument as an adult isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds! In fact, piano is one of the easiest instruments to physically play, making it an excellent option for you. If your musical interest lies in modern, popular songs rather than classical tunes, then you don’t even need to bother with learning to read traditional sheet music to play piano.

Instead, you can learn with a method that prioritizes ear training over memorization and uses sheet music with just one line of melody and chord symbols. This is great for adults who want to play for a fun hobby and personal enjoyment because they’re able to pick up on real songs while learning buildable music fundamentals. There are lots of piano-specific health benefits that will help combat your winter blues, too! Check out these facts:

  • Playing piano for fun has been proven to lead to improved memory, hearing, blood pressure, hand-eye coordination, and so much more for adults.
  • A Prescription for Music found that adults learning to play piano experience a decrease in psychological distress, depression, and fatigue, compared to a non-playing control group. 

Plus, there are actually some benefits to learning to play piano as an adult rather than as a child. If you’re ready to start exploring some classes for your piano journey, I’d love for you to try a lesson on me. In just 45 minutes, I’ll demonstrate how my method helps adults learn to play without complicated sheet music while teaching you your first tune. Simply click here to sign up and get started in your first online piano lesson

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