When the weather is colder, it can be harder to stay upbeat. 

Some people even suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This can mean you experience fatigue, and find it hard to concentrate and get motivated.

There are however a number of ways to manage symptoms of SAD and depression.

Here are 10 ways you can battle the winter blues:

1. Take stock of your dinner plate.

In colder months we are often drawn towards heavy comfort food. But it’s important to keep yourself mentally healthy by eating mostly vegetables, fruit and lean proteins.

If you think you may have SAD, think through what’s on your plate. Research suggests a Mediterranean-style diet made up of fruits, vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil, yogurt and cheese, nuts, whole grains, seafood and lean red meat leads to a healthy mind and body. Try keeping fried and processed foods to a minimum and stock up on healthy wholefoods, including warming, nutritious soups.

2. Don’t stop moving.

Exercise is proven to help our moods and our mental functioning. If you’re moving less, look at your calendar and schedule in some weekly walks, runs or at-home routines. Keep building on these until regular movement becomes a part of your life.

3. Surround yourself with friends.

Are there people in your life, or social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself? Plan to spend less time with them, and more time with those who bring out the best in you. Toxic relationships can deplete our energy levels and affect our wellbeing.

4. Tick something off your bucket list.

What is one thing you can do for yourself this week? What have you been putting off? Is there a book beside your bed that you’ve neglected? A project on the backburner? Why not pursue a new hobby? Learn a language? Go on a trip? Make time for yourself and boost your mental health.

5. Spend time by a fire.

According to a study from the University of Alabama, sitting by a fire decreases blood pressure and helps you relax. The warmth, the crackling sounds, the smoky smell and light of a fire helps soothe and comfort, especially when it is cold.

6. Increase your supplements.

A multivitamin, or a vitamin D supplement, can help those us living in colder areas. Vitamin deficiencies can affect our moods and energy levels.

7. Manage your screen time.

Cold weather causes us to spend more time inside, which means more screen interaction. Too much screen time diminishes mood, builds fatigue and creates too many distractions. Try making a point to put down devices and step away from screens on a regular basis.

8. Pursue fresh air.

Yes, it’s cold. But it’s still important to bundle up and get some fresh air. Outside time will increase your energy, reduce stress and depression, and help you sleep better. Go outside for a walk to clear your head every day.

9. Follow the sun.

Why not plan a weekend somewhere sunnier? This will give you something to look forward to and address your vitamin D deficiency.

10. Ask for help when you need it.

If you are suffering and nothing you try is working, seek professional help. No one needs to suffer alone. Reach out to a mental health professional or a trusted friend or family member. We’ve listed some helplines below, if your depression persists.

Emergency: 000

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Lifeline 131 114

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

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