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8 simple ways to combat the dreaded winter blues

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Is it just us, or does January sometimes feel like one long Monday?

Seasonal depression rears its ugly little head for millions of Americans every year, but with the backdrop of a global pandemic, it’s like gas has been thrown on the fire.

So if you (like so many out there) are struggling to get out of bed in the morning, we’re here to help brighten things up a little.

Pop Quiz: Do you have a case of the winter blues?

You might hear the terms “winter blues,” “seasonal depression,” or “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD) used interchangeably. The truth is, there’s a broad spectrum of symptoms for these conditions, so your symptoms could range from mild to serious.

Since we’re no medical experts here, we’re going to stick with the mild side of things for now.

On that note, please enjoy this short, definitely-not-meant-to-be-taken-as-a-medical-diagnosis quiz to help you determine whether or not you might be experiencing the winter blues.

When your alarm went off this morning, you:

A) Jumped out of bed, eager to start your day.

B) Hit the snooze button several times before reluctantly leaving the warmth of your covers.

C) Never actually left your bed — in fact, you’re still there.

Your opinion of January is:

A) It’s just the best month of the year. Hands down. SKI SEASON, BABY!

B) Meh. Kind of boring.

C) If it were physically possible to kill a month, I’d kill January twice.

It’s snowing outside! Your first thought is:

A) Yay! Time to hit the slopes!

B) Great. This will make driving to work fun. (*Note sarcastic tone.*)

C) I’m going back to bed. Wake me up when it’s June.

If you mostly answered A, you’re doing pretty well. Good for you for loving winter with its freezing temperatures, darker days, and muted color palette. Feel free to skip this article entirely and continue enjoying your life! Heck, kick your feet up and do a little online shopping.

If you answered mostly B, there’s some room for improvement. We can definitely help you feel a little cheerier till spring rolls around.

And if you mostly answered C? Hahaha… well, you’re in good company. And you’ve come to the right place!

For those of us out there who are anxiously awaiting sunnier, warmer, greener days, here are some tips and tricks for sailing smoothly through the winter months.

Have a morning routine

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Want to feel more calm and in control of your life? Take back your mornings! Find the will power to kick off those cozy blankets and give yourself a chance to mentally, physically, and spiritually prepare for the day ahead. If you have kids, carving out some peaceful time to yourself and starting the day off on your terms is especially important.

Not sure where to start? Click here for a few ideas to help you create the perfect morning routine.

Add some sunshine into your life

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Did you know that those pesky winter blues could actually be linked to a vitamin D deficiency? But you don’t necessarily need to be pounding the vitamin D supplements to get your daily dose of sunshine. Instead, try eating vitamin D-rich foods like tuna, salmon, orange juice, or cheese. Maybe invest in a sun lamp.

And if you have the chance to step out into some actual sunshine during the day, do it! (Just don’t forget the sunscreen. Those UV rays don’t take a winter break!)

Get your body moving

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You knew — you just knew — this list would include exercise, didn’t you? Because endorphins make you happy and happy people don’t kill their husbands. (Thank you, Elle Woods.) 

If you’re not an exercise junkie, start slowly. Maybe incorporate some stretches into your morning routine. Try some YouTube yoga. Stand up and march in place while you watch your favorite tv show! You’ll be surprised at what a difference a little movement can make in your life — especially if you do it regularly.

Try a little Hygge

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There’s got to be a reason why Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world — and hygge might have something to do with it.

Hygge (pronounced “HOO-gah”) has gained popularity in recent years, and the basic idea behind this Danish lifestyle trend is to surround yourself with people and things that make you feel happy and cozy. (Think: cuddling on the couch watching a movie, having a good discussion with friends, drinking warm beverages, snuggling up with a book, decorating your home with things that bring joy, etc.)

Since Danish winters are long and dark, hygge is at an all-time high in the wintertime, when a plethora of lights, wine (gløgg), and blankets abound. Hey — if it works for the happiest people on earth, it can probably work for you, too!

Write it all down

Person Writing on Red Notebook

No one understands you the way your journal does. When you’re having a hard day, flip that thing open and spill your guts out on paper. (Not literally, of course.) From stress relief to a healthier immune system, the experts pretty much all agree that journaling is a good way to stay on top of your mental health.

Surprise yourself with something new

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December is a pretty tough act for a month to follow. After weeks of bright lights, parties, presents, family togetherness, delicious goodies, and time-honored traditions, it’s a bit of a let-down to go from that to nothing in January. (Although Jan.27 is National Chocolate Cake Day, so there’s that...)

Why not shake up the regular ol’ routine and do something completely out of the ordinary? Take a scuba diving class, go on a weekend trip to somewhere a few degrees warmer, eat pancakes for DINNER. Live dangerously!

Of course, one of our favorite go-to’s is buying a new outfit. 

Socialize — in whatever way you can

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This one may be more tricky to navigate because of that whole worldwide pandemic that’s going on, but even with the emphasis on social distancing, it’s important to remember that you still need friends. Call your girlfriend up out of the blue just to chat. Host a Netflix Party with your besties. Even better, go for a run, walk, or hike with a friend and you’ll be killing two birds with one stone!

Seek professional help if you need it

Okay, so we just gave you a nice list of little things you can do to boost your mood during these otherwise dreary winter months. But seeing as we are not medical experts, our best advice is that you get the help you need to deal with any type of depression or prolonged sadness that’s interfering with your day-to-day life.

It’s certainly normal to feel blue on occasion — especially in the wintertime — but if you find yourself constantly struggling to get out of bed in the morning and feeling relentlessly hopeless, it may be a good time to talk to your doctor.

Don’t tell yourself you just need to tough it out.

Getting some professional help could spare you from a lot of unnecessary pain. After all, everyone is dealing with extra emotional and mental stress these days. 

You’re not alone, sister. There’s no shame in asking for help.

What advice do you have for staying happy through the wintertime?

Is there something glaringly obvious missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below! 

And if you liked this post, don’t forget to share it with your friends. It may be just what they need to get them through their day.

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