The cold weather and shorter days often make us feel a little less like ourselves. For some, the change is temporary and common symptoms of Winter Blues, like sadness, lack of focus, and fatigue, won’t disrupt your life. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t serious. Prolonged sadness can turn into a severe condition called SAD, so it’s best to beat the Winter Blues early.

1. Seek Out the Sun

One of the biggest reasons why the Winter affects us is because we limit our exposure to vitamin D. Since vitamin D isn’t stored in our system, we need to be exposed to the sun daily to improve our emotional state. If you aren’t able to go outside during the day due to work or a persistent snowstorm, try to sit by a window for at least two hours a day or take a supplement.

2. Bring the Outside In

It’s hard to watch the trees lose their leaves and flowers droop over the holidays, but the perfect Thanksgiving bouquet can do wonders for your mental health. Studies have shown that flowers can induce positive vibes, creative energy and can help us recover from difficulties. Specific flowers, like orchids, lavender, and roses, can help you feel calmer and more focused.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Getting an average of 8-9 hours of sleep a night can boost your immune system, manage weight gain, increase productivity, and put you in a better mood. However, in the Winter, our circadian rhythm can get disrupted. If you can go to bed at the same time each night and expose yourself to light when you wake up, you’re on your way to improving your sleep routine and your health.

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4. Start Moving

It’s true – exercising at least 30 minutes a day can improve your mood, reduce stress and decrease depression symptoms. Don’t jump in all at once, especially if you’re feeling sad, because you may associate movement with pain. Instead, start slowly by committing to twice a week strength training or aerobic exercises. Add on more workout days each week.

5. Prevent Overwhelm

When we’re upset, it’s common to try everything at once in an attempt to stop feeling this way. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed if you aren’t already. It’s difficult to stay motivated when you’re convinced you don’t have enough time in the day to accomplish anything. Instead, try the 10x10x10 rule, where you break up tasks in 10-minute intervals. Continue the task if you can.

6. Boost With Food

We’re not saying you should add unhealthy eating habits to your life because that will make your Winter Blue work. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add specific foods that can give you a boost in mood. For example, foods that are high in vitamin D, like fortified milk products, can make you feel good quickly. Healthy, whole food carbs are especially good mood boosters.

7. Avoid the News

Being indoors more often increases our screen time. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you exercise, certain shows can negatively affect our mood. If you consume a non-stop cycle of news, you’ll likely increase your Winter Blues. Although the world is getting better, it’s hard for your brain to believe that if you’re constantly exposed to crime statistics and shock journalism. 

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8. Find a Support System

Isolation and loneliness can make the effects of the Winter Blues much worse, so it’s crucial that you find a support group you can trust. Whether that’s your current friend group, family members, or a chat room, try and stay connected to a group you can socialize with every few days. Although in-person gatherings are optimal, you may have to settle for virtual dates depending on your situation. Call or text your support group if you can’t spare the time.