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Life and living: Brighten the winter blues

As the winter chill sets in for many, others begin to experience a dip in their morale. And that’s likely due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression related to the change in seasons. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, 5% of adults in the United States experience SAD. While that statistic might seem low, adults can experience SAD for about 40% of the year. Whether you experience this type of SADness or not, here are some easy-to-implement, mood-boosting strategies to help you through the winter months.

1. Let there be light

The lack of sunlight during winter can significantly impact your mood. Consider rearranging your workspace to maximize natural light exposure. Also, consider investing in light therapy lamps, which mimic outdoor light and can reduce SAD symptoms. Thirty minutes a day of light exposure can be a game-changer. 

2. Color your world

Color can influence your mood in many ways. If you’re unable to update the paint color on your walls, consider incorporating accessories like throw pillows, rugs or art that can create your own sunshine. 

3. Stay active

Exercise is a great way to combat SAD (and it’s good for the body). Add a lunchtime walk or morning yoga session to your routine. These activities can boost serotonin levels, which enhance mood and energy. 

4. Eat a balanced diet

Your diet plays a significant role in managing SAD. Foods like fish, nuts and seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and are known to improve mood and brain function. 

5. Get social

Social support is vital to combating the wintertime blues. Plan a weekly coffee date with a friend or join a book club. Stay connected and engaged with friends and family during your season of SAD. 

6. Embrace flexibility

Winter can be tough for many, especially those in areas where the sun sets before the workday is over. See if you can adjust your working hours to when the sun is out. 

7. Plan fun events

Organize a get-together once a month, whether it’s a game night or a casserole party. Having an event on the horizon can give you something to look forward to. 

8. Supplement with vitamin D

With decreased sunlight, your vitamin D levels may take a hit. Consider taking a vitamin D supplement after consulting with a healthcare professional first. 

9. Keep a routine

Maintaining a regular schedule—especially your sleep schedule—can help keep your mood steady. Consistency is key. 

10. Explore new hobbies

Learning new skills or engaging in hobbies is a great way to distract yourself from the gloominess that winter brings. Whether it’s painting, building, sewing or knitting, find something that brings you joy. 

11. Seek professional help

Don’t be afraid to seek help from a mental health professional if your SAD is too much to handle alone. Talking to someone can help provide relief and a new perspective.

Battle the blues

Your well-being and mental health are of the utmost importance. Battling this kind of SADness is about taking small, proactive steps to lift your mood. From creating your own sunshine to exploring new hobbies, these strategies can help you get through the winter months. 

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