It’s not uncommon to feel a bit blue this time of year. The holidays have come and gone, days are shorter and nights are longer, the mercury dips below your comfort level—and you can find yourself feeling a little low. Here are a few tips to stave off the blues—and before you know it, spring will be right around the corner!

• Eat healthy food! Don’t get caught up in the “comfort food” trap. You may think that indulging in junk food, sugary or high-fat foods is going to make you feel better, but the opposite is true. A poor diet is actually a common cause of depression. Try incorporating foods like salmon, turkey, bananas, nuts and avocados as well as whole grain cereals, fruits like berries and oranges, leafy green vegetables, natural live yogurt and yes, small amounts of dark chocolate (raw organic is best!)

• Get outdoors! Your grandmother wasn’t kidding when she told you to get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Studies indicate that diminished hours of sunlight can cause an imbalance in your serotonin and melatonin levels.

• Get regular exercise. Go outside and go for a walk and not only are you getting that fresh air and sunshine, but staying active is a great way to get fit, manage stress and keep the blues at bay. Walking is always a great way to exercise, but there are plenty of other outdoor activities, too—skiing, skating, sledding, building a snowman or even making snow angels. Of course, if it’s just too cold outside, try walking at your local mall, taking the stairs at work or taking a dance or yoga class.

• Get a good night’s sleep. Getting adequate rest is equally as important as staying active. Six to eight hours of restful sleep each night is recommended for maximum rejuvenation. Bear in mind that the hours of sleep before midnight are generally the most rejuvenating. If you’re sleeping eight hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., you will feel more rested than if you slept eight hours between midnight and 8 a.m.

• Be social. Every day is a great day to be grateful for family and friends, so make it a point to get together and keep in touch. Even if it’s frightful outside and you feel like you’d rather hibernate until spring, don’t discount to power of connecting with the people you love.

• Get a hobby. Try something new. Take up knitting or crocheting, cross-country skiing, scrap-booking—anything that captures your interest. Taking on a new project or learning something new will keep you engaged and make those winter days pass more pleasantly.

Author's Bio: 

Maia J. Lagerstedt is a Holistic Health Coach (certified by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and Columbia University Teachers’ College in New York) and a freelance columnist and features writer. Her articles and health and wellness column, "To Your Health" has appeared in The Fairfield County Times in Connecticut and The Westchester County Times in New York. She is currently working on a cookbook focusing on healthy meals that are both simple and delicious.