After the holiday and newness of the new year starts to wear off, the cold, harsh reality officially sets in: Winter is here. Yes, through February—and sometimes even March—winter takes over, with few moments of warmth sprinkled throughout. With the deep cold, consistent darkness and long hours indoors, winter can be a pretty difficult season to get through and often affects our mood.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that occurs and ends around the same time every year. That’s right: With a lack of Vitamin D and little time spent outdoors, the winter months can literally make you sad. Luckily, we have some ways to combat seasonal depression. Check out our five ways to stay happy and hopeful during winter.
1. Stay active.
Many people set exercising as their New Year’s resolution, but it can do even more for you than losing a few inches around the waist. In fact, exercising can literally improve your mood during the long, cold winter months. It can be hard finding ways to exercise when it’s particularly cold outside, so you have to get creative. Check out local gyms, exercise outside on the random warm days or search for in-home workouts online for new ideas.
2. Be social.
Bears may need to hibernate during winter, but that doesn’t mean humans should. Shutting yourself away and spending extra time indoors alone does not help when it comes to combating seasonal depression. Instead, get a group of friends together and make it your goal to be social. Even if your socializing is simply sitting in your sweats by the fire with a glass of wine and a friend, surrounding yourself with positive people to connect with helps you stay happy during winter.
3. Embrace the season.
Sure, winter might have its downfalls, but it has plenty of great qualities to enjoy too. Don’t wish them all away by focusing on the upcoming seasons. Instead, embrace winter: Sip hot chocolate, go ice skating, sled down a hill, build a gingerbread house—the whole shebang! Not only will you have a lot more fun during winter, but it will help it fly by even faster, leaving you hopeful for spring and summer.
4. Eat well.
Eating all those treats over the holidays and New Year’s may be fun in the moment, but they don’t leave our bodies feeling too great. As winter comes to an end, help your body feel better by treating it better. Too many sweets can throw your blood sugar level out of whack, leaving us feeling cranky. Combat the winter blues by being more conscious of what you put into your body, and eating foods that fuel you well.
5. Keep your mind engaged.
Finally, with a healthy body comes a healthy mind. On a cold winter night, it’s easy to want to curl up and watch mind-numbing television for hours on end. Unfortunately, this can also lead to a heightened risk of seasonal depression. Instead, keep your mind engaged by reading books, doing challenging puzzles or keeping a journal. Nurturing a sharp mind will help you to stay positive throughout the winter months.
When the parties come to an end, winter can be a pretty tough season to get through. However, that doesn’t mean you have to just sit tight and buckle in. Stay happy and hopeful this winter by trying out some of these helpful seasonal survival tips.