It’s that dreaded time of year again—as the temperature gets lower, so does your mood. The midwestern season of hibernation can take a toll on any sane person’s mental health. So, whether you call it seasonal depression, the winter blues, or just being too cold, here are some tips from an expert on how to boost your mood and motivation, no matter how bleak it is outside.
Get some Vitamin D: Even though it’s the middle of winter and the sun comes out once every blue moon, ensuring your body gets enough Vitamin D is crucial to fight off the blues. You can get it by simply venturing outside, opening your blinds, or getting over-the-counter Vitamin D supplements at your local Target.
Sun lamps: Believe it or not, you can buy artificial sunlight on Amazon for less than $20! Sun lamps or light boxes are recommended by many doctors for aiding seasonal depression. All you have to do is sit in front of your lamp for 15 minutes in the morning.
Go outside: Yes, it may be -20 degrees outside (not accounting for wind chill) but bundle up and brave the cold to soak in some fresh air and minimal sunlight. Find a fun winter activity like skating or sledding—and if you really want to make your dad happy, pick up a shovel.
Stay social: Though hibernation is the logical solution to the atrocious weather, staying social is key. Plan several fun activities throughout the week, even if you have to force yourself. Call a loved one and bake cookies, watch a movie, or find a winter festival to go to. Prioritizing friends and family will ultimately lift your mood.
Try a new hobby or interest: Get involved in things that take your mind off the mind-numbing cold and dark. Channel your inner-grandma and take up knitting or journaling. Find a good book or podcast to take your mind out of reality or bake some cookies!
Treat yourself: You deserve to be pampered. Whether it’s taking a bubble bath, having a self-care night, or splurging on an impulse buy, do things that make you happy. Maybe even invest in a new pet to curl up with. Just tell your parents it’s necessary.
Avoid the sad music: Though it’s tempting to press shuffle on your sad Spotify playlist, avoid this at all costs. We all know it won’t help, no matter how good the songs are. Opt instead for some Christmas music or maybe some good ol’ 2000s hits to dance around to.
Exercise: Though it’s tempting to stay in bed binge-watching rom-coms, exercise is a scientifically proven way to improve your mood. It doesn’t have to be much but make sure you’re implementing movement in your day-to-day life.
Hold yourself accountable: It’s easy to remain dormant through the cold months (especially with the sun setting at 4 p.m.) but make sure to maintain your daily routine. Try to adhere to a consistent sleep schedule, and don’t procrastinate that English essay. Even just making your bed every morning will give you a satisfying feeling of accomplishment.
Vacation: Finally, if the cold becomes unbearable, flee to Florida for some sunlight and a change of scenery. Save up some airline miles and let your teachers know you’ll be back in a few weeks. They’ll understand.