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10 ways to beat the winter blues

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It's common to feel moody during the winter.

It's common to feel moody during the winter.

Do you often feel down in the dumps during the winter? There are plenty of reasons your emotions might be all over the place. Think about it: The cold weather is keeping you indoors more often than you’d like, which likely prevents you from exercising and┬áhanging out with your friends as much as you normally do.

But what you’re experiencing may be more than just a mood swing, and it’s more common than you think. Winter blues, also known as seasonal affective disorder, is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. It’s often the result of being exposed to less natural light during the day.

If you’re feeling less motivated and more moody than usual, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Mental Health America said that 5 percent of the population experiences SAD in any given year. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to relieve the way you – and millions of other Americans – are feeling during the colder months.

Looking for a pick-me-up? Here are 10 ways to beat the winter blues:

1. Spruce up your workout routine
Exercise doesn’t only work wonders for your physical body. It also improves your mental well-being, according to the American Psychological Association. This winter, mix things up and join a new workout class you’ve been dying to try.

2. Revamp your skin care regimen
By taking care of your skin, you’ll reduce your chance of acquiring new pimples – which can also boost your confidence and better your overall mood. Try following a new regimen that works with your skin type to turn your frown upside-down this winter.

3. Volunteer in your community
Lending a helping hand in your community doesn’t only benefit those you’re giving back to, according to U.S. News and World Report. It’s a fulfilling gesture that raises your self-esteem, promotes feelings of happiness and enhances your overall health. Reach out to your school’s guidance counselor about ways to volunteer in your community.

4. Make healthier snack choices
There’s nothing more satisfying than a sweet chocolate treat after a bad day. But making such a decision will likely only make you feel good temporarily, and eating too much will negatively impact your physical well-being. To curb a sweet or salty craving, make better snack choices with options like dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

5. Spend more time with your besties
Isolating yourself from your friends can be harmful for your mental wellness. No matter how down in the dumps you’re feeling, try to hang out with your besties on a regular basis. It’ll boost your mood and keep you in the social loop – after all, do you really want to miss out on all of the latest juicy gossip?

6. Follow a normal sleep schedule
You may be inclined to sleep in until the afternoon on Saturday, but you won’t enjoy the feelings of guilt that follow. Do your best to follow a normal sleep schedule – even on the weekends – to keep a balanced mood this winter.

7. Drink less coffee
Coffee certainly has a way of keeping you alert when you need it most, but coming down from the caffeine often results in feeling fatigued, according to Massachusetts General Hospital. Consider cutting back to one morning cup and reaching for a natural energy-boosting snack like fresh fruit.

8. Give light therapy a shot
The lack of natural light is likely going to bring you down. So why not combat the feeling with light box therapy? According to Health Harvard Publications, just 30 minutes of artificial light exposure can make the same impact as antidepressant medication. Just set the timer on your favorite Baby-G watch and let the half hour of relaxation begin.

9. Make a to-do list every morning
A simple feeling of accomplishment can work wonders for your mood. Write up a to-do list every morning and check off the tasks you complete as the day goes on. Each morning, make it a priority to clear the list and you’ll feel better in no time.

10. Travel during your winter break
Living in the east can take a toll on your happiness during the winter, especially if you’re not a fan of snow. So why not take a trip west during your break? Getting a change of scenery and hanging out in warmer temperatures can curb feelings of seasonal depression and help you feel refreshed when you get back to school.

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