The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. If you feel like hibernating until spring, you’re not alone. The “winter blues” are characterized by mild depression and low energy. If your mood is falling faster than the temperature, try some of these tips to boost your spirits.

Exercise

Take the time to try something new, like hiking, ice hockey, or skiing.  Organize a group outing to enjoy winter weather, and make great memories.  If heading out in the cold isn’t your idea of a good time, then try a group fitness class like spinning or yoga at your local fitness center or go bowling with friends.  A good workout can relieve stress, improve mental focus, and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Eat a healthy diet

Take a break from “comfort food,” which can be high in calories.  Take advantage of winter vegetables (butternut squash, beets, and pumpkin), and try a new recipe with limited amounts of salt, butter, sugar, and cream. Instead, try using more healthful options, such as olive oil, coconut milk, and spices.  A healthy dish can provide vitamins and nutrients while keeping calories in check. For nutrition advice or tips on developing healthy eating habits, contact the Health Promotion office at your installation. 
 
Treat yourself

Plan an event, which can keep you motivated by providing something to look forward to.  Plan a weekend away or attend a sporting event.  Consider using the winter months to plan a summer vacation or long distance road trip to visit family or friends.  Planning something exciting can improve your mood by prompting you to focus on the future, rather than dwell on the cold, long days.
  
Learn something new

Use the winter months to update your skills or practice something new.  Take a cooking class on base or study a foreign language for free with Transparent Language Online.  Begin one of more than 500 online, non-credit personal enrichment courses through Universal Class (available at the library).  
       
Re-think your drink

People who feel “down” tend to turn to alcohol.  However, alcohol is a depressant and actually can make your mood worse. According to the National Institute of Health, high-risk drinking (4 or more drinks for men and 3 or more drinks for women in a single day) can negatively affect your health.  Additionally, high-risk drinking (14 or more drinks for men and 7 or more drinks for women per week) can negatively impact long-term health, potentially causing sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, and liver disease. 

The Substance Abuse Counseling Center (SACC) offers a wide array of prevention, intervention, and counseling services to promote the readiness of Marines and their families.  SACC takes a proactive approach to support low risk use of alcohol and discourage other substance misuse. If you are concerned about your alcohol or other drug misuse or that of someone you care about, please contact your installation SACC. If you are struggling with the winter blues, contact the DSTRESS Line or your local Community Counseling center. The DSTRESS Line provides anonymous Skype, chat, and phone support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.