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In partnership with The Fresh Toast

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real issue, one that can become even worse due to the pandemic. Here are some ways to combat it.

Summer is pretty much over, signaling an anxious period of time for those who aren’t fond of the cold weather. While it might sound like a simple preference, there are higher odds of being depressed in the winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real problem, one that’s made worse by feelings of isolation. The pandemic makes this affliction even more complex.

Still, SAD, or any type of winter blues, can be battled by making small changes to your everyday life. It’s important to keep in mind that if the problem feels like it’s getting out of hand, talk to someone about it, preferably a person you trust or a professional.

Here are 5 ways to get ready for the winter blues:

Prioritize your mornings

Mornings are important, especially during the winter, when days are shorter and nights are longer. SAD can push people to want to stay in bed for longer periods of time, something that sounds delicious in theory, but that can quickly derail your plans. Try to get up a little earlier so you can have more light during your day, which will also allow you to go to bed earlier on and keep a better sleeping schedule. If you need an incentive in order to wake up a earlier in the mornings, set several alarm clocks, schedule activities earlier on and do your best to treasure these hours since sunlight has a big impact on your mood.

Get a new hobby

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Nights tend to be the hardest to deal with during winter. If you live alone or are feeling particularly isolated, be sure to find something to do that keeps you entertained and that gives you some sort of purpose. Try new hobbies, game nights with friends, or put together a reading list that you can tackle each night. These small moments will allow you to care of yourself and do something relatively productive with your time, much more so than scrolling through your timeline.

Exercise

Working out is critical during the winter. It not only keeps your body in shape, it assists in the production of dopamine and endorphins when you need them the most. While outdoor work outs aren’t always pleasurable or possible, try to get them in when you can. On days where it’s too cold, try working out to YouTube videos or apps; any routines that are fun and provide you with a challenge are encouraged.

Keep your place cozy

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A change of space can make you feel way better and also help you stay occupied. Avoid cluttering up the area where you’ll spend most of your time, putting away the stuff you don’t need and adding blankets and comforting items that will make you feel safe and at home. Move furniture around and try to transform your space into something that can be creative and productive for the coming winter months.

Indulge your emotions

One of the most important things you can do is to be honest with yourself. If you’re feeling sad and overwhelmed, it’s okay to feel these things and cry about them. Release your anxiety by crying or by talking things out with someone you trust. If you need a little help getting your emotions going, put on a movie or show that you know will get you emotional, giving yourself the space to feel whatever it is you’re feeling while also creating some distance. After you’re done, shift gears and try to do something that makes you feel at ease, at least for a little while.

Read more on The Fresh Toast