The role of light is not just about getting enough vitamin D; your body clock is reset every day by the sunrise. “But when the sunrise comes later, as it does in winter, then that biological clock gets shifted in time,” explains Koenigsberg.
So instead of waiting for the sun to come up, start the day early by sitting next to a bright light an hour before sunrise. This is also a good time to start that resolution about exercise — “if you can combine the two, that’s best,” he says. And stop drinking caffeine completely after 2 p.m. to ensure you won’t have trouble falling asleep.
Get out of your own head
Sometimes, the best way to gain perspective on your own life is to help others — the feeling of altruism and social interactions are both helpful to lifting your funk. But it doesn’t have to be volunteering; rekindle your interests or find like minds through social networking sites who share a new passion.
If you racked up debt over Christmas, don’t ignore the bills piling up in your mailbox. Accept what’s done and look for a solution.
Take mental breaks
Don’t be ashamed of taking a few minutes out of your day to watch a silly cat video on YouTube. “When people get into a rut, feeling bad, it can help to have things that distract them from those thoughts,” Koenigsberg says.
Or, even better, use that break to take a lap around the office or walk up a couple of flights of stairs. Research has shown that about five minutes of movement for every hour of sitting can counter its negative health effects.
Warning signs of something more
It might be time to seek help if you feel down pretty much most of the day, every day, and it doesn’t go away for a couple weeks; experience a loss of appetite, have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and feel a lot of guilt or worthlessness.