Put yourself first more than usual
During the summer it's usually a time where you are constantly making plans and working or doing something that allows you to surround yourself with people you love for longer periods of time. When the cold and snow comes around you will find yourself inside, cuddled up in bed and watching movies more than normal. This is when the weather forces you to go from socializing time to me time. Try to find things that make you happy and don’t be afraid to put yourself first during this time of year because you may need that for yourself. Alone time equals thinking time so find things that will make you happy and keep you distracted to avoid overthinking and bad thoughts that seasonal depression may bring around. This can be watching movies, TV shows, yoga, meditation, writing, picking up a book, anything that you enjoy to do, try and do that more now that the cold weather is creeping up faster than normal.
Get a full night's sleep but, don’t sleep in
Sleep is essential to mental health. The more rested your body, the happier the brain. So, try and go to bed early and get a good 8 hours to improve your mental health. On the other hand, during the wintertime, try to wake up earlier than normal and don’t sleep in. The sun is setting much earlier this time of year, so to trick your mind into having a full day of sunshine like in the summer, wake up when the sun does, and it may just improve your mental health and also help with falling asleep earlier. When you sleep in, you're losing hours of daylight, meaning more hours of dark which can make your mind feel dark as well.
Change your mindset on winter
Instead of dreading that 20-degree weather and that snowfall, try to look at the positives. No more sweat stains! No more oily skin! A great excuse to be wrapped up and snuggled in your blanket all day! No more sweaty uncomfortable nights in your dorm bed! Baggy sweatpants and sweatshirts are more acceptable to wear in public! These are only some of the perks that cold weather brings. Snow on the other hand can be something many people despise, especially when you’ve been dealing with huge amounts of it your whole life. Take a step back and appreciate the beauty of it though. Nothing is prettier than driving down a road and looking out your window to see trees covered in snow; it leaves you in awe. Appreciate this solid water that mother nature creates for us because there are people around the world that have never seen the beauty of snow and really want to.
Cut down on alcohol
Being a college student comes with many things, alcohol being one of them. During this season of depression, try cutting down on this depressant. Alcohol can make your seasonal depression worse because at the end of the day the science shows that alcohol makes you sad, so why add on? Try improving your habits of going out every weekend and have a Friday night in with the girls watching Christmas movies and drinking hot cocoa. That is always good for the soul. Cutting it out for a couple months for your seasonal depression to get better is not a bad bet at all, and hey, you can say goodbye to those nasty hangovers for a while!
Plan a trip
If you have the funding, DO IT! It's something to look forward to to get you through this hard time of the year. You're sitting in bed, the sun has set at 4:30, you just want it to come back up, you start to feel sad but then the thought of your trip down to Florida with your family during winter break makes you happy and makes you want to get everything done because that is something you can't wait for. Trips equal motivation to the soul. Something to look forward to always helps with getting stuff done.
Spend more time with the people you love
Nothing heals the mind better than spending time with the people who mean the most to you. Spend a night shopping, have dinner and vent sessions with your mom, watch a football game with dad, date night with your significant other, lunch with a friend, video games with your brother or whatever it is, do it because it will make your heart grow fonder and mind grow happier. Taking time out of your busy life for the people you love and who love you is so important for your mental health, especially during times where seasonal depression starts to kick in. Maybe that’s why this time of year has holidays flooding in that create excuses for people to spend time with your family, because you're meant to spend time with your family in this, sometimes miserable, time of year.
Nothing releases dopamine in the brain like a good workout. Even if you’re not a big gym fan, get up and get active, even if it means some stationary cardio in your dorm. Exercise can improve your mental health in general but can also be key to helping seasonal depression. Get up early and exercise. This can give you a good start to your day and keep you feeling great for the rest of the day. It can also be your motivation to get out of bed early in the morning to savor that sunlight.
Taking Vitamin D supplements
This may not be the case in all places, but I know for sure that New Englanders fall short when it comes to vitamin D year around. This gets worse as winter comes around, which can make you feel tired and drained as the cold months roll in. Finding supplements to boost your vitamin D can be as easy as a Walmart trip. Nature's Bounty and VitaFusion make a great vitamin D supplement and don't cost that much money. Also, talking to your doctor about this matter can help a lot too. Vitamin D rich foods can help such as mushrooms, eggs, cheeses, fruits and a lot more.