Winter Blues

I just heard a weather report forecasting several days of cloudy, windy, cold weather. The meteorologist described the upcoming days as “gloomy.” Many of us are prone to slugishness and low energy in the winter months because of the short days and cold weather. Kids and adults can bust the gloomies by staying active and purposefully planning fun, enriching, outdoor activities every single day.

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GET OUTSIDE. No matter the weather, get outside frequently. Remember that walking around outside and exposure to natural light – even in cloudy weather – boosts moods and busts gloomies.

KEEP IT SIMPLE. Outdoor activities don’t need to be time-consuming or cumbersome. We can make an impact on physical and emotional health by spending just 15 or 20 minutes moving around outside every day. Spend time with your friend with autism enjoying one or more of these activities: walk around the block, walk out to pick up the newspaper and mail each day, throw sticks for your dog to retrieve, shoot some hoops in the driveway, swing in the sunshine, jump on a trampoline, water the outdoor plants, rake leaves, sweep the sidewalk, tromp in the snow, or throw a soft, squishy ball back and forth.

MAKE IT ROUTINE. Individuals with autism often thrive on routine. Make an outdoor excursion part of your friend’s daily routine. Mention it at bedtime or at breakfast. If he has a daily calendar or schedule, insert “outdoor adventure” in each day. Over time, it will become part of his daily routine, and he will just expect to get outside every day.

LEND A HELPING HAND. One thing that is guaranteed to bust the winter gloomies is to reach out a helping hand to other people. As a family, gather up outgrown coats, sweaters, socks, mittens, and other warm clothing and take them to an agency that provides services to needy children. Or volunteer to help in a soup kitchen on a cold winter evening. Your friend with autism can bake some cookies for a homebound neighbor or volunteer to put her newspaper on her porch every afternoon. The idea is to get off the couch and to go outside with a purpose.

TIP FOR THE DAY. Get out and about during the winter to raise spirits and help everyone not only survive, but enjoy the long winter months. Another way to raise spirits (especially mine) is to share this resource with other people who are interested in the well-being of individuals with autism. ☺ Have them click on THANKS!

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email at with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism.

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