By Andrew Ott, MSW, LCSW | February 8, 2016

Suffering the “winter blues” is a common occurrence. For many in the northern hemisphere, the short, often cloudy and gray-colored days of winter can really invite “the blues.” Even those who don’t suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) — a type of mild to moderate depression that roughly half a million people experience in the relative absence of daylight — can find themselves feeling somewhat tired, apathetic, anxious overeating, gaining weight, and more short-tempered than usual during the winter months. But fortunately there are some things we all can do to keep the “winter blues” from turning our emotional skies gray. Here are five tips for healthy habits that can help make the season truly upbeat.

Enjoy the positive aspects of the season.
Take time to savor the unique feel, sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of the season.

Get into the light and get some exercise.
Whenever weather permits, be sure to get out in the daylight and be active to some degree. Also, getting your heart rate elevated for as little as 12 minutes a day can improve your overall energy level, level of alertness, and stamina. Be regular with your exercise, at least every other day.

Eat healthy
It’s best to eat foods that keep your blood sugar levels more stable, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy protein foods such as fish rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (salmon is a great choice). And if you really must snack, look for things like some omega-rich nuts, or raw vegetables.

Get plenty of good rest.
Try to get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, and if you need to, catch a brief nap in the afternoon to recharge.

Think spring time!
Do some things that remind you of warmer weather, and before you know it, you’ll be feeling some of the energy of the season.

Some people aren’t as vulnerable to the ‘winter blues” as others, but there are things we can all do to keep them off. Developing a few healthy habits can make the season truly bright. Observing them can make all the difference between a season full of joy and a case of the “winter blues.”

For further information on Seasonal Affective Disorder read: Winter Blues, Fourth Edition: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder, (2012). by Norman E. Rosenthal