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The concept of seasonal depression is widely known and understood- it’s a real thing. Although we may not all have diagnosed seasonal affective disorder (thankfully), many of us still feel the effects of shorter days and colder temperatures. This season tends to bring more time in bed, worse moods, and less motivation. The decrease in our melatonin levels caused by less sun exposure in the winter months seriously affects our mood and well-being. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. Here are eight tips to turn your winter around and make it a season to enjoy, not one to despise.

Turn to stay inside into the activity.

Having a night in is not always a negative thing. Neither is staying in bed with snacks and a movie. Since vacation isn’t strictly allowed right now, make staying at your destination! Whether with friends or alone, plan your ultimate night in with takeout or a new recipe, a great movie, maybe a good book and a couple of candles. This fun change will turn your night into your favourite night of the week.

Stick to a Schedule.

Winter days, weeks, and months always blend, especially in this fun little pandemic. Keeping up with a schedule of sleeping, mealtimes, work times, and exercise times, among other activities, simulates a natural and normal day to keep you motivated and engaged with your life. The additional benefit of a good routine is the positive effect on the quality of your sleep, therefore boosting your overall mood and energy level

Prioritizing Socialization.

There is a proven negative relationship between social isolation and depression. The desire to isolate yourself and stay inside in the winter months may heighten this and cause a decrease in your mood. In the current state of the world, there are a few creative ways to stay connected to friends and family. Carving out the time in your day to hang out with your housemates, call your parents, or go on a walk with a friend will immediately boost your mood. Zoom calls and FaceTimes can be turned into playing a game together over the phone verbally, or even just a good old-fashioned catch-up with talking.

Self-Care Nights.

After all that TV watching and socializing, you need some self-care! Whether self-care for you looks like taking a long shower, reading a book, taking a nap, drinking a good coffee, or doing your skincare, it’s essential to prioritize these things. Taking a break from the mundane day-to-day activities that can feel gruelling in the winter and choosing a night to focus only on yourself goes a long way.

Binge-Watch a New show.

A new show is a perfect addition to your night in! Take advantage of your time to watch that show you’ve heard so much about. Brand new content always motivates me, so this may be the kickstart you need. As a university student, I don’t think “binge” is the proper term, as that may cause you to neglect school work and other necessary activities, but a couple of episodes a day is excellent! Everything in moderation is perfect! 

Exercise

I know you’ve heard this one before. However, it is true that exercising, however that may look for you, will make you happier and healthier. Exercise doesn’t mean you have to go on a 10k run and go to the gym five days a week; physical activity looks different for everyone. Are you going on a walk? Exercise. Trying yoga for the first time in your living room? Exercise. Are you doing a deep clean for your house? Also counts as exercise. Just get your body moving; you won’t regret it.

Let The Sun shine inside.

As I mentioned earlier, we tend to see a decrease in our mood in the winter because of reducing melatonin and vitamin D levels from the sun. Therefore, get your sun hours in! Sun hours could mean opening up your blinds when it’s sunny, and you are sitting by the window, bundling up and going for a walk on a bright day, or even taking vitamin D supplements (as all Canadians should). A little bit of sun is better than none at all!

Journal.

Finally, when all else fails, write about it. Writing about what is stressing you out or the things that are getting you down can help put them in perspective for yourself. You might look back on what you wrote later on and realize how mundane your issues seem now. For real, though, the best way to work through your emotions is to get them out on paper. Writing doesn’t take away all the pain, but getting them out of your brain and onto the paper is powerful.

Whether you try one or all of these tips, I hope your mood in winter 2022 is at an all-time high!

Alex Ugolini

Queen's U '24

Psychology major, actress, lover of the earth. Find me on Instagram @alexugolinii
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