Staying Warm

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Even though it’s the fresh start to the year, January can feel exactly the opposite. There are no festive holidays – where it’s too late for stores to continue their Christmas and winter holiday promotions but far too early for the pinks and reds of Valentine’s Day – and it’s deep in the middle of winter. The weather can feel unpredictable lately, but generally, January is a time where winds are biting, it starts getting dark as early as 4:30 in the afternoon, and it’s just cold.

You may have heard of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. While this can happen during any time of the year, it’s commonly associated and tends to be more likely during the winter. The “winter blues” can make everything feel so much worse, and between the more negative feelings and the less-than-ideal weather, it can be difficult to want to leave your bed during the season.

Very few people list winter as their favorite season, and have consistently had this opinion for decades. If you are someone who doesn’t particularly care for this time of year, whether it be because of the effect on their mental health, the reduced desire to go outside because of the cold, a combination of the two, or any other reason, you can be well assured that you are not alone. That doesn’t mean that you have to resign yourself to hibernate until the weather starts to turn around, however. Many sites provide all sorts of tips to battle the “winter blues,” including some of the few below:

bryan-minear-316499-unsplashLight Boxes These lamps are specifically designed to mimic outdoor light, so if you’re inside all day, or even in the afternoons when it gets dark earlier, small bursts of exposure to these lamps can help your inner clock and give some sort of Vitamin D boost to your body. There are tons you can find online, though the prices can vary.

rawpixel-1087145-unsplashExercise It can be hard wanting to move around, much less exercise, when leaving a warm blanket nest does not seem tempting in the slightest. Working out can be more than running outdoors – which can be both difficult and painful during this time of year. It can also be more than going to a gym, which requires going outside in order to get there. There are ways to move around inside though: YouTube provides tons of workouts that you can follow along with, especially yoga, and there are guides that provide short workouts that don’t require equipment. If you can’t do more than a few minutes, that’s okay, because even getting up and moving around just a little can help boost your mood and body temperature.

kelly-sikkema-72695-unsplashBundle Up If anything, the cold weather gives us a reason to wear as many fashionable clothes as possible, because when it’s in the 20s outside, there’s no such thing as too many layers. This could mean doing a little bit of retail therapy, especially online, and taking advantage of “end-of-season” sales as stores try to focus more on their spring and summer clothes. It could also mean going through your closet and coordinating outfits and accessories and seeing what kinds of combinations you can come up with.


Do you think that wintertime has an extreme effect on your mood and mental health? What tips do you have to help boost your mood and productivity?

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Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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