Winter is finally here. While some people love walking in a winter wonderland, many others struggle with depression and feelings of sadness throughout the season. It’s estimated that 4-6% of people struggle with winter depression, contributing to issues like fatigue, social withdrawal, and a loss of interest in things you typically enjoy.

If you’re really struggling with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it’s important to get the help you deserve. Talking to a therapist or other mental health professional can help you get to the root of your feelings, and you’ll learn skills to combat your symptoms. SAD is typically caused by a lack of light and a drop of serotonin which can frequently happen when the days are short and dark.

However, if you’re trying to deal with feelings of seasonal sadness on your own, there are effective ways you can combat the cold winter blues immediately. Let’s take a closer look at a few strategies you can use to fight the effects of cold weather and shorter days.

Using UV Therapy

People with SAD often utilize light boxes/light therapy to help with their symptoms. You don’t necessarily have to invest in any special equipment to take advantage of UV rays. Consider going to a local tanning salon to get a dose of vitamin D. While tanning can have some negative effects, it’s an effective way to boost your mood when you use the proper protection and space out your sessions.

If you want to invest in a light box, talk to your healthcare provider about different varieties and which style might work best for you. Getting more vitamin D when it’s cold and dark outside can help to reduce symptoms of depression, improve your mood, and boost your energy.

Traveling Somewhere Warm

One of the best ways to combat the cold weather blues is to get out of the cold weather! If you’re able to take a vacation during the winter, consider going somewhere warm for a few days or weeks. Some of the best warm-weather destinations across the globe include:

  • Sri Lanka
  • Buenos Aires
  • The Galapagos Islands
  • Saint Lucia

Spending time in a warm environment will not only allow you to soak up more Vitamin D, but you’ll be more likely to spend time outside and stay physically active. Exercising is another great way to boost your mood, give you more energy, and fight off depression. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find the motivation to exercise outside in the dead of winter, so being able to work out outdoors in a warmer climate is a win-win for your physical and mental health.

You might even consider going to a location that does experience winter and learning more about how that culture handles the cold weather. Norway is a perfect example. It’s beautiful during the winter, but the days are short and the temperatures are low. Norwegians layer up and do whatever it takes to stay warm, creating cozy environments in their homes, and trying to focus on the beauty of what makes winter special. They take a “mind over matter” approach to the season that can have a positive influence on their mental well-being.

Creating a Cozy Home

If you’re not able to travel somewhere tropical, do what you can to foster a cozy, warm environment in your own home throughout the winter — just like the Norwegians!

Creating a cozy home aesthetic is easier than you might think. Add extra rugs and blankets, light a fire or candles, and consider switching your lighting to something warmer and more “golden” in tone.

It’s also important to make sure your home stays warm throughout the winter. Seal your windows and doors, repair any cracks or leaks in the walls or windows, and have your furnace serviced by a professional as soon as possible. Getting a tune-up will ensure it’s running efficiently, and it’s less likely to experience a problem when the temperatures drop.

If you struggle with the winter blues, you’re clearly not alone. However, you don’t have to dread every second of this season. Keep these tips in mind to fight back against those feelings, and you might find that you’ll actually enjoy some aspects of the colder months ahead.

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