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16 Small Things You Can Do To Get Through The Cold, Dark Winter

Don't let the cabin fever get to you.

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With it getting colder outside and the sun setting at a disrespectfully early hour, there's probably something we can all agree on: The winter kiiinda sucks.

So we asked the BuzzFeed Community and Dr. Lois Krahn, a practicing psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist, how to cope, and they all had some great tips. But before we show you them, here's something to note: Some of these tips might work better than others, especially if you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — a type of depression that typically comes with the changing seasons. So take what appeals to you, and leave the rest.

OK, let's go!

1. Make it a point to get outside during the day, whether it's for lunch, to go for a walk, or even just to drive around for a bit.

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I make sure to leave the office every day during lunch (versus staying in to eat). I do it even if I bring my lunch from home so that I can get some sunshine while it’s bright outside. If it’s not too freezing I’ll go to a park, and if it’s really cold, I may sit in my car or drive around a bit. Anything to be outside while it’s not dark.


2. Plan an activity that — after a long day — you can't wait to do once you get home.

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I always give myself something to look forward to, even if it’s a small reward for getting through the day, like a bubble bath.

—Maddy Grace Krebs, Facebook


4. Or snuggle up under a warm, cozy heated blanket.

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Honestly it’s 100% my heated blanket. It helps me sleep better, and it really helps in the winter time considering my windows are TERRIBLE at keeping the cold air out. This blanket is a life saver.


6. Think about investing in a light box — one that's bright enough to mimic the intensity of the sun.

@kiakaha_holistictherapies / Via

I ordered a light box off Amazon last year and it's great! I turn it on for 20-30 minutes as I get ready every morning during the winter months. It helps my energy and helps my seasonal affective disorder a bit. If you get one, make sure you do some research, because they're not all the same and they won't all help things like energy and SAD.


"Now, if a person has a mood disorder or sleep disorder, then the intensity of the light should be the same as the sun — about 10,000 lux," says Krahn. Why, you might ask? Because the sun is the strongest source of blue light, and that light suppresses the hormone melatonin, which is what makes us feel sleepy. Even if you can't get true sunlight, she says artificial blue light that's bright enough to mimic the sun's intensity will do a pretty decent job of keeping you awake, energized, and in a better mood.

7. Or try out an alarm clock that also simulates the sunrise.

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I use a dawn simulator alarm clock. It’s basically a big light that gets gradually lighter starting 20–40 minutes (customizable) before the time the alarm is set, and is at it’s brightest when your alarm finally rings. It’s pretty bright. When it’s 5:30 a.m. in the middle of winter and my alarm light is at its brightest, I don’t need to turn on my bedroom light to get out of bed and get dressed. It doesn’t quite replace actual light box therapy, which I also use in the fall and winter, but it is great for getting up before it’s light out in the morning. Plus it goes from a pretty reddish orange to bright white — like the sunrise! — which is really soothing.


You can find dawn simulator clocks on Amazon.


8. Try to make up for the lack of sunshine by taking vitamin D supplements, since they might help your mood.

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Our bodies produce vitamin D when they're exposed to the sun, and some research suggests a relationship between vitamin D levels and mood. But Krahn says to take this advice with a grain of salt, since it won't work for everybody. "Unfortunately — and surprisingly — the quality of the evidence for its effect on mood and energy is unimpressive," she says. "Nonetheless, for a person getting little sunlight, which is more common in winter, it is a reasonable step to pursue with few drawbacks."

9. Leave all your warm clothes by the door so that there's no way you'll forget them when going out into the cold.

Tesdei / Getty Images

The night before you go out the next day, leave your gloves, scarf and/or hat by the door. This way, you don't forget to take it and you can keep warm outside in the cold.


10. Put up some fairy lights; they're not just for decorating Christmas trees.

Dglimages / Getty Images

Living in Canada, you pretty much have to start getting ready for cold short days in October. Plus, with 9 a.m. classes everyday, I pretty much wake up in complete pitch black. My trick to adjusting is using fairy lights that turn on and off with a timer so that i wake up with soft lighting and they'll turn off during the day. Its so much nicer than the harsh orange-yellow light of my room and makes you feel 100% more cozy. Plus you can adjust the timer to turn on at slightly later times as days get shorter.


11. Plan fun activities around warm places (besides your house). / Via

I go thrifting. The places I go stay open late and are heated. There are so many places to go and you get a rush by finding something super cool for very cheap. It’s shopping without worrying that you’ll spend too much, so you can go again and again and again. You’ll never know what you’ll find! (p.s. It's also a great way to renew your wardrobe for very cheap, if you want to keep up with this winter and fall fashion trends!)



12. Create a space thats cozy AF for all your senses, and then curl up in it with your favorite book.

Alexraths / Getty Images

I completely set the mood for a cozy afternoon of reading. I turn on our electric fireplace, light a peppermint-scented candle, and curl up under my heated throw blanket. I sip on a cup of hot tea and nibble on a 2-ingredient (pumpkin purée and spice cake mix) muffin. My couch is in front of a bay window, I get natural light. Most of what I read has a vampire, witch, werewolf, or some other sort of supernatural storyline to it.


13. Find a winter thing that you love doing outside.

Blyjak / Getty Images

I go backpacking. This changes your attention from "there's less daylight" to "my favorite thing to do is starting soon!" Outdoor winter activities also give you day trips to plan and whole days outside in the sunshine. Just don't cheap-out on any of your clothing. It keeps you warm and dry, which is priority number one when doing an outdoor activity.


14. Explore the concept of hygge, and identify all the places you can employ it.

Zoë Burnett / BuzzFeed / Via

Hygge is a legit thing. It’s the Danish principle of “coziness.” Soft blankets, lots of hot drinks like tea, tons of candles, comfort food, fireplaces, long baths, cuddling with pets, and for me, a full-spectrum therapy light box.


Click here to read more about Hygge.

15. Actually LIVE for the holidays. (And don't stress yourself out about them, either.)

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I try and get involved with the holidays, but i make sure not to get too stressed about it. I personally love Thanksgiving and Christmas so I’ll decorate for the seasons, watch all the TV specials, and get cozy.


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