The gloomy days of winter don’t just yield frigid temperatures. As the temperature outside gets chilly and the hours of daylight decrease, many people feel down, irritable or low in energy. If you are one of them, you are not alone.

Studies suggest that approximately half a million people from the United States suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is a type of depression that comes and goes with the season.

If you find yourself suffering from the winter blues, then I urge you to keep reading. Here are 5 simple ways to beat the winter blues.

Get some D

Many of us spend majority of our time indoors during the winter months. As a result, our Vitamin D levels drop. Studies revealed that low levels of Vitamin D can cause SAD. Why? Because Vitamin D plays a role in the production of serotonin and dopamine, the happy chemicals in the brain.  

Try to go outside at every possible opportunity to counteract this problem. Spending at least 30 minutes a day outdoors can offset your seasonal drop in serotonin. Alongside this, include Vitamin D-rich foods such as eggs, mushrooms, cheese, and fatty fish in your diet. Another option is to take Vitamin D supplements.

Stay active

A shortage of sun exposure and being inactive are part of what triggers SAD. Bundle up and enjoy winter activities with the kids. You can go ice skating, skiing, running or just go for a walk.

If the weather is too frigid, then you can do indoor exercises. 60 minutes a day, 3 times a week is enough to boost your spirits.

Plan an escape

The heart of winter is an excellent time to plan your vacation. Research suggest people get a greater boost of happiness during the planning and research stage than from the trip itself. This is due to the anticipation for the upcoming trip.

Lift yourself out of your funk by making long-range plans to look forward to. Call an old friend and plan a weekend getaway. Or better yet, plan the perfect family vacation.

Laugh out loud

Watching a funny movie, laughing with friends or even faking a smile can help you perk up and raise your mood. Since laughter is contagious, you can invite your friends and queue up a stream of funny films.

Seek professional help

If you find that your SAD symptoms do not improve or they interfere with your work, life or relationships, do not hesitate to see your healthcare professional.