It’s officially beginning to feel like winter these days, especially in New England. With the first light snowfalls we had in October and the end of Daylight Saving Time in November, we’re experiencing cooler weather and shorter daylight hours.

As exciting as the holiday season is, the rest of what winter bring us can feel overwhelming and at times depressing. We all experience variations of dry skin, low Vitamin D levels, and fatigue due to the shorter days and colder temperature.

This time of year we end up catching the winter blues and it honestly stinks. Before you succumb to those winter blues, though, try to persevere.

Here are a few tips to beat the winter blues this season:

1. Make plans after work.

I don’t know about you, but by the time I leave work each day it’s pitch black and feels like 8:00 at night. Truthfully, it’s only 5:00 by the time I end my work day, but the shorter daylight hours play tricks on the human mind this time of year.

Rather than going straight home, changing into your pajamas, and watching television to pass the time by, consider making plans after work. Schedule a gym session, join an athletic team, pick a new hobby up, or simply see friends after work.

Being busy, even when it’s dark outside and feels much later than it is, could help you feel fulfilled. Being busy is bound to keep you from focusing too much on the shorter daylight hours, thus avoiding those winter blues.

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2. Focus on your health. 

This time of year brings far too many feasts, booze, and desserts, what with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day back-to-back. It’s so easy for us to eat way too much food, drink more than we should, and abandon our diets and fitness goals.

Put your health first by staying on track as much as possible. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge occasionally, but this is the time of year you need to be mindful of moving your body and fueling it with the right things.

Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Not only is this a good habit for your insides, but also for your skin. Water plays an important role in hydrating your skin, which you’ll need to survive the harsh winter weather.

You should also stick to your regular exercise routine and eat a well balanced diet to keep your mood in check. Those pesky winter blues like to affect your mood, but sticking to healthy nutrition and regular exercise should help balance out your mood and hormones.

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3. Get plenty of sleep.

I am way too guilty of staying up late during the Christmas season watching those cheesy Hallmark holiday movies until the wee hours of the morning. I need to stop that bad habit and you do too!

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Sleep is essential to your overall health and energy. Be sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep, but don’t overdo it either. Since it’s dark outside much earlier these days, it can feel way later than it is. Stick to your regular sleep routine to stay on track. Getting the right amount of sleep is bound to balance your mood and energy levels.

4. Take a Vitamin D supplement. 

With shorter daylight hours this season, most of us won’t get the right amount of Vitamin D in our systems naturally. It’s likely that you have class or work during the day, thus keeping you out of the sunlight for the few hours you could enjoy the sun during wintertime.

This could make you susceptible to developing a Vitamin D deficiency. Consult a physician or your primary care doctor before adding supplements into your diet. With your doctor’s recommendations, Vitamin D could be the natural boost you need to feel balanced and well during the winter season.

5. Consider light therapy to treat SAD.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (dubbed SAD) is a form of depression that usually cyclically occurs during the fall/winter seasons. For some who suffer from SAD, light therapy can be a safe and effective treatment to combat this seasonal depression.

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As always, consult your physician before beginning a new treatment. Your doctor should carefully review the benefits and potential risks of light therapy treatment with you.

Essentially, a light box mimics outdoor light. It is used in an effort to trigger a chemical change in your brain that lifts your mood. There are many different forms of light boxes and light therapy available, therefore you should talk with your health care provider before purchasing anything to ensure you find the right product for you.

Fending off the winter blues is no joke. Some of us experience seasonal depression, moodiness, and imbalance stronger than others, while some people hardly have symptoms at all. Depending on your health (physical, mental, emotional, etc.) during this time of year, these tips may help improve your adaptability. Try out a few of these suggestions to see if you can combat the winter blues this season.

Do you experience winter blues? How do you beat them?