Winter months can bring along seasonal depression, fatigue, or simply the feeling that it’s much better to stay indoors beneath a blanket than brave the cold weather and icy conditions.

For many, the fact that the evening comes sooner is hard to live with; a lack of sunshine can seriously affect some individuals and leave them feeling tired and low all the time.

The good news is, there are several ways you can combat those feelings and hold depression at bay when the darkest, coldest months swing around.

Taking good care of yourself is the best way to make sure you can handle whatever winter throws at you. Here are some of the best ways you can achieve that and help your family feel better about this season, as well.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is important for the entire family, and more than that, a good routine will help everyone feel their best. Staying up late to work or finish schoolwork is necessary every now and then, but it’s best to keep a steady schedule and get to bed around the same time every night so your body clock has a chance to reset and you won’t be left feeling exhausted every morning. Set a bedtime and stick to it, even if it means leaving a few things undone until morning.

Eat well

Cutting sugar and caffeine out of your diet will not only help you rest better, but it will also keep you healthy during the months that make many people want to take comfort in junk food. Load up on dark, leafy greens, nuts, fish, and plenty of water to boost your energy and mood levels and try to stay away from red meat and sugar as much as possible.

Exercise daily

You might often read that exercise and eating well is the key to feeling good no matter what the problem is, but in so many cases, it’s an inescapable truth. Exercise will release endorphins and help boost your mood and self-esteem, and it will give you a goal on those long winter days that seem endless and dark.

Set a goal to walk the dog every day, or, if it’s too cold to get outside, run up and down the steps in your home, dance in your living room, or take up a new routine, such as yoga.

Soak up the vitamin D

The sun helps us in many ways, and in the wintertime, it’s important to get as much sunlight as you can before evening swoops down. On sunny days, make it a point to open the curtains, get outside on your lunch break, or take the kiddos out to play. If you’re in an area that is having a run of cloudy days, consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Ask your doctor before beginning any regimen.

Wintertime can be difficult for reasons beyond the weather; for some, the holidays are hard to get through when friends and family are far away, so make sure your home is a positive environment to spend time in. When I made more of a conscious effort to boost my mental health, I started to have a lot more good days–and even my relationships with others improved. If you’re struggling with the winter blues, keep these tips in mind.

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