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Chances are you or someone you know is experiencing one of these things: grief, sadness, and depression. About 11 million Americans are affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder). So whether you’re SAD or not, we all know that life has a way of throwing us off track.

The time it takes us to regain our footing? Well that varies person to person. With that said, despite your emotional state on December 22nd (when winter hit the scene) – the blues she brings along has the power to knock us all off our feet. Not to mention what happens when you combine this with grief, sadness or depression–the 88 days of winter can be downright excruciating. Luckily, spring is on the way, but there’s many of us who are suffering through residual sadness.

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Unfortunately, I know all to well what winter blues and sadness taste like, however in my own season of grief I also know that the two things that have been my saving graces are sweat and sunshine. So beauty if the you’re down, may these tips help you spring into spring.

1. Rise With The Sun

The way you start your day can make a huge difference in they way you feel, so tell this seasonal slump what’s up and rise with the sun. The lack of sunlight that results from winter’s “shorter” days disrupts our internal body clock, and the degree in which this takes place largely stems from some combination of other factors — your geography, genetics, and individual brain chemistry. P.S. Only about 1% of Florida residents have some winter-specific discomfort or depression, compared to about half of those living in uppermost parts of the U.S. or in southern Canada. So if moving is not an option then make an point to rise early, get out (30 minutes can do the trick) for a brisk walk or jog and soak up some vitamin D.

2. Artificial Sun Can Be Fun

Not an early riser? Then you can fake bake with a sunbox. Light therapy has been reported to work in 80% of all cases of SAD. In fact, some research shows that a blue light may be slightly more effective at reducing SAD symptoms than other types of light. Doctors recommend sitting near your light box for 30 minutes each morning, so place one on your dining room table while you eat your breakfast.

3. Vitamin D Mega Vitamins Please

Like I said earlier, vitamin D is essential for mood improvements during the winter. However since us brown skinned girls already have low levels of this super vitamin, we must be extra aware. In fact after battling my depressive state last winter, and feeling history repeating itself again this year, I listened to my doctor’s orders and upped the ante in the vitamin D department. So if you’re feeling super down boo don’t be afraid to ask your doc for a super potent dose too.

4. Eat Your Vitamins

Speaking of vitamins, another key element in warding of the winter blues is eating a healthy diet. Specifically complex carbs. I know we all crave junk food and greasy comfort things like mac ‘n’ cheese during the winter months, but filling up on sugar and refined flours will only make us feel worse. On the the other hand complex carbs take longer to digest, which means they don’t cause spikes in blood sugar that can create crazy mood swings. So opt for whole grains and complex carbs like spinach, yams, broccoli, beans and so much more.

5. Ten Minutes Can Change Things Tenfold

With energy down and temps lower than your age, working out (especially if it requires you to leave the house) is the first thing to go. But it shouldn’t be. Physical exercise is a proven depression buster so don’t use winter as an excuse to miss out on all those RAD mood-enhancing endorphins. Plus a little can go a long way. When I literally have not an ounce of motivation I say to myself, “Just 10 minutes Robbie!’ I turn on my favorite music, do my favorite exercises, whip my towel around my head a few times and before you know it it’s been well over 10 minutes.

6. Crossdress In A Different Season

Depressed or not many of us tend to experience some level of weight gain in the winter. Blame it on the fact that we camouflage ourselves in leggings, high boots and oversized sweaters. Oh and if you are a New Yorker it is important to note that this get up will be all black. However the way we dress significantly affects the way we feel, so crossdressing a bit – as in wearing no seasonal pieces and colors – can literally brighten our mood and help us maintain our waistline. So pair a bright pink blouse with that black pencil skirt or swap that onyx mani for a softer spring color.

7. Stay Social

Lastly, I know colder temperatures can lead to hibernating, but no matter how many layers you have to throw on I highly recommend you keep it social this season. Force yourself to go to parties and maintain your favorite social activities. Having a Hulu marathon on your couch feels good in the moment, but in the long run hanging with your homies will brighten your mood way more. Speaking of your homies, save up your vacation time for the winter months (as opposed to the summer) and take a trip to warmer climates like Florida or California. Or if you like the snow, hit up a cabin and the master the slopes with a winter sport like skiing or snow boarding. Bottom line, just get out of town!

Robbie Ann Darby (RAD Experience) is a professional FitGirl, Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in NYC. Follow her sweaty life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more fun health and fitness tips!

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