Weather not only affects us physically, but it also affects us mentally. Spending time in the sunshine can make us feel happy (thank you, vitamin D), but the winter can bring on some serious depression.

The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and the temperature is freezing. We spend less time out of our homes, more time hunkered in our beds, and many of us disconnect from friends and family.

And, as if winters aren’t already hard enough, COVID-19 is going to make things even tougher as we continue to social distance and stay away from big crowds.

In order to prevent yourself from going down a deep, dark hole this winter, here are some ways to combat those winter blues. 

But, above all else, if you are feeling depressed, make sure to reach out and get help. You don’t have to suffer alone!

Take That Vitamin D

We usually get most of our vitamin D from the sun, so it’s important to take a vitamin D supplement during the winter. 

Depression is often correlated with low vitamin D levels, so make sure you’re taking something every day. 

A lot of foods are also rich in vitamin D — like tuna, salmon, milk, and eggs — so add those things to your diet as much as possible.

Fake It Till You Make It

It’s not always easy to be optimistic in the winter, but do everything you can to pretend like you’re having a good time. 

Wear bright colors, get involved in winter activities (like skiing, ice skating, or sledding), and trick your brain into thinking everything is great. It may feel like a chore at first, but over time you might find that you actually are enjoying yourself.

Get Excited About Something

Sit down and make a list of all the things you’re excited about this winter. From books being released to movies coming out, to Christmas, to even a FaceTime date with a friend, write down every single thing you’re looking forward to. 

Then, create a calendar of all the things you’re excited about and hang it up so you see it every day. This will get you excited for what’s to come and hopefully keep you focused on the positive, rather than the negative.

Buy That Sun Lamp

For those of us who deal with SAD (seasonal affective disorder), bright-light therapy is a great treatment. Less sunlight affects or circadian rhythms, which then sends us down a spiral. 

Invest in a lightbox and use it for about 30 minutes to an hour every morning when you wake up.