Five ways to beat the winter blues


Winter can be a rough time for many. The days are short, temperatures are low and sometimes it’s a struggle to get out of bed. Here are five ways to help lift your spirits and help you feel happier.

1. Utilize light. People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) (a form of depression that begins as weather gets cold and days get shorter, and fades as the weather warms up) may feel depressed, irritable and have trouble waking in the morning, especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, which causes the lights in your room to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed. Additionally, sitting next to a light box (10,000 lux) for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication.

2. Listen to music. Does an upbeat song ever make you feel happy? A 2013 study from the University of Missouri confirms listening to upbeat music can significantly improve your mood in both the short term and long term.

3. Stay active. A 2005 study from Harvard suggests exercising every day for about 30 minutes improves symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

4. Eat smarter. Certain foods, like fresh fruits and omega-3 fatty foods, can help boost your mood, whereas carb-heavy and caffeine-heavy foods can impact your mood negatively. There are plenty of seasonal produce available in the winter like cranberries, oranges, winter squash and kale.

5. Laugh. Laughter helps stimulate processes in your brain that counter depression symptoms and blood pressure. Your local library should have plenty of comedy movies and TV shows to help you laugh.