A Guide to Staying Ridiculously Happy This Winter

By: Jess Novak

Credit: Shutterstock

Between the family obligations, the weather, and the nagging feeling that the football team you coached this season is about to fire you, winter is stressful.

When people experience stress, they experience it physically, emotionally, and cognitively, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Marla Deibler of The Center for Emotional Health. Basically, there’s no part of your body and brain that gets out of this one, and you’re left to just deal with a bunch of fight-or-flight instincts.

But fear not! there are ways to manage the stress and keep a little bit of your July self alive through the winter.

More: How to Stop Feeling So Exhausted All the Damn Time

Credit: Sara Norris/Thrillist

When you hit the bar, connect with people, not your phone
If you’re escaping work stress or the general malaise caused by slushy-gray-sad-coldness, (which might be what you’re up to if you’ve made it through the sleet to a bar in the winter months), then you need to actually escape, says Bartender of the Year Ivy Mix, of Brooklyn hotspot Leyenda. “Rather than getting lost in Facebook or Instagram, put down the cell phone, get up, connect, and communicate with people around you.” Winter might be one of the most times of the year, but as Mix points out, whoever’s in that bar is probably going through exactly what you are. Either way, talking to them is definitely going to be better than sourly staring at your college roommate’s freakishly perfect Instagram life.

Dr. Deibler agrees. “More time spent on social media can lead to a decrease in mood,” she says, noting that there have been studies that back up this claim. “Social media is a very artificial capture of what life is like,” she says.

Credit: Thrillist

Try not to get hungover…
“First off, nothing makes people less stoked on life than being hungover,” Mix notes, confirming everything you’ve ever felt. “Nobody wakes up in the morning after a night of drinking and is like, ‘I’m so hungover, I feel like a million dollars!’ My advice for avoiding a hangover: don’t do shots. Just don’t do shots. Shots are bad.”

… and plan a solid day-after if you do
Oops, you did all those shots. “If you do go out and overindulge during the holidays — which happens — then in the morning, get up and go hang out with the people you overindulged with,” Mix says. Wait, what? Aren’t you trying to avoid the misery? Well, there’s some advantage to relieving your stupidity (or awesomeness, depending on how many shots you took). “You don’t have to suffer through the feeling of ‘Oh my God, did I say that? Did I do that?’ all alone. Do it with the people who you were with the night before — that’s the comfort blanket that will make it better.”

Credit: Naomi Stark/Thrillist

Resist the temptation to stay in bed all weekend
“A lot of us tend to shut in more during the winter, but maintaining activity is a good mood lifter,” Dr. Deibler says. And even cooking counts as being more active, than, say, letting Netflix just keep hitting your screen with another episode of Master of None (brilliant though it is).

Credit: Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Watch your sugar intake…
One of the most important elements of maintaining a steady mood is keeping an eye on your glycemic index, says Karen Wang Diggs, author of Happy Foods: Over 100 Mood-Boosting Recipes. “If you’re feeling crappy, you may gravitate towards comfort foods — cakes, cookies, bags of chips — but keep an eye on the amount of sugar that you’re taking in, because that sugar intake is temporary — it’s a shot of energy, but you might start feeling crappy again after 15 minutes.”

To find out 5 other ways to ensure your happiness this winter, get the full story at Thrillist.com!

More from Thrillist:

Health Mistakes From Your 20s That You’ll Pay for Later

Your Daily Sugar Allowance, Pictured in Different Foods

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