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If you feel depressed during the winter months, try these 4 things.

Seasonal depression is real. Here's how to deal with it.

If you feel depressed during the winter months, try these 4 things.

Have you ever noticed that winter-themed films tend to involve frolicking in the snow, ice-skating, and kissing your one true love while the snow falls in your hair?


Don't these people know about stretchy pants and Netflix? Photo via Robbie Dale/Flickr.

For a lot of us, winter actually looks more like leaving work after the sun has already set.

It looks like canceling plans because it’s easier to stay in bed, and trying to remember a time when the sky was any color but gray.

In fact, almost everyone I know gets the “winter blues” to some degree — feeling exhausted, sad, and checked out during the winter months. But for some people, those feelings can manifest into something even more extreme: an illness called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

Yay. Winter. Photo via Lucia Sánchez Donato/Flickr.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on the seasons.” For most people who have experienced this mood disorder, SAD starts in the fall and begins to let up in early spring.

Medical professionals think that reduced exposure to sunlight (basically, no vitamin D) is a major factor behind seasonal depression. When the sun is only out for a couple hours a day, your body and brain regulate emotions differently.

The good news is that some of the best ways to deal with the winter blues include tiny lifestyle changes that don't involve a prescription pad at all.

Here are four ways to kick SAD's ass and reclaim your winter.

1. Start using a light therapy box.

I started using this sun lamp for 30 to 45 minutes a day during my senior year in college, and it changed everything. The lamp blasts VERY bright light at your face until your body is convinced that it's not hibernating through the winter. It can be a little hard to adjust to the habit, but it has been proven to work fast.

Seriously, it works! Photo by me.

2. Sweat out the SAD.

Regular exercise is a cornerstone of physical health, but it can also make a huge difference with mental health, too. Getting physical encourages your brain to release all those good chemicals that elevate your mood.

3. Think positive.

This tip may sound annoying ("just be happier!!!"), but hear me out. In northern Norway, where some towns don't see the sun for months, seasonal depression is very rare — partly because Norwegians have different expectations for winter.

Instead of getting down in the dumps, they mindfully focus on the color, the coziness, and the beauty of those dark, cold months. So when winter's got you down, take a page out of their book: light candles, cook stews, drink hot chocolate, and get out your warmest blankets. A small shift in perspective could lead to huge results.

Doesn't seem so bad, does it? Photo from Samet Kilic/Flickr.

4. Make sure you have enough vitamin D.

According to Psychology Today, tons of studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression. A vitamin D supplement could help your body deal with winter's emotional lows.

These tips probably won't "cure" your seasonal sadness — only the Earth's slow rotation around the sun can do that.

But remember, you're not alone. Lots of us experience the winter blues, and it does get better.

True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

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Trying to herd those flies virtually during a pandemic is too much to even fathom.

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Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

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