Once the holidays are over, when the days are still short and the nights get colder, even the best of us can feel a little down. But it's always possible to make our own light and warmth.

Here are some ideas for brightening the winter blues.

1. Make the best of it.

Find the things you love about winter, the things that make you feel cozy and warm. Instead of saying it's cold outside, think of how great it is to sit in front of a fireplace (whether it's real or virtual). Look for the best that winter has to offer: Take up a winter activity such as ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hockey, or sledding--or just spend an afternoon out tubing with friends. (Live where the lakes are really frozen? Try ice fishing.)

2. Stay active.

One of the best ways to beat the blues, or any stress, is to exercise. It improves your mood by releasing feel-good chemicals, and it also helps you stay healthy. You can benefit from a workout at the gym, a long walk, or just dancing around your living room.

3. Bring in the light.

If you're strongly depressed, it's possible that you suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Bring in the light and spend some time with a full-spectrum lamp that mimics sunlight, or ask your doctor about more intensive solutions such as bright-light therapy. You may find substantial relief for the winter blues.

4. Take care of yourself.

Do something that makes you happy. Find something, even something small, to treat yourself. Having something to look forward to can keep you motivated. Winter seems endless! But if you plan something exciting, your mood can improve just by anticipating it.

5. Get your Z's, but don't overdo it.

Make sure you get the right amount of sleep--not too little, and not too much. Sometimes when it's dark and cold outside, a warm bed is hard to leave. Overcoming that tendency is another reason to plan some fun for yourself.

6. Get stuff done.

One way to take advantage of the cold months is to use the time to do the things that were hard to take care of when summer weather kept you outdoors. Clean your home, rearrange your office or your hard drive, learn a new language, read a complicated book, learn something new.

7. Volunteer.

One of the best ways to keep yourself on track is to make time for others. Look for nearby opportunities and jump in to help.

Oscar Wilde once said, "Wisdom comes with winters." So let's celebrate the wisdom we're gaining as we spice up our winter and make our days worthwhile.