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Scientifically-Proven Ways to Make Winter Suck a Little Less

Scientifically-Proven Ways to Make Winter Suck a Little Less

We’ve officially reached peak hibernation. The days are long, the temperatures are arctic, and the only reason to wake up in the morning is to see whether Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth actually are back together again. Because weathermen have shown no signs of easing up on the blizzard-condition forecasts, here are five ways to kick your creeping winter/Monday/post-Super Bowl blues.

1. Put on every sweater in your closet and go outside. Catching a cold actually has nothing to do with being cold. A fun fact for the aspiring meteorologists among us: You’re way more likely to come down with something when the temperatures are high and the humidity is low. But while your mom may have been lying all those times she told you to wear a coat so you don’t get sick, she wasn’t lying about the whole fresh-air-being-good-for-you thing. Spending time outside, particularly during those blissful few hours of sunlight, will help with the inevitable vitamin D deficiency.

2. Attempt to embrace gratitude. If you’re feeling generally not-great about life right now, having someone—especially a middle-aged man with a smug smile, like the author of this New York Times piece—tell you to force yourself to be grateful is a bit like having your parents tell you to stop dreading school. Once your eyes are done rolling, consider this: If we consciously choose to feel grateful about things, we’ll all be a little bit better off. Even if you aren’t thrilled about much at the moment, between finals and term papers and the constant crush of homework, simply acting happy helps. Brains are weird, and you can literally trick yours into not feeling so down.

3. Treat yourself to a Venti. Cuddling up on the couch with a big book and an even bigger blanket becomes all the more therapeutic when you add a steaming mug of the truly magical, ancient potion we call coffee. Whether you choose drip black or salted caramel latte with extra whip, the benefits are the same. Drinking coffee will help you live longer, and it’ll also make you happier. Women who drink more coffee have a 20% lower risk of depression. Make it a double.

4. Work out. (Sorry, but it’s true.) You don’t need a scientist to tell you that exercise is good for you, but for all the skeptics, literally thousands of studies prove it. Endorphins do crazy-good things for your brain, making you more enthusiastic and excited about life. Breaking a sweat raises your heart rate, which in turn thaws your frozen heart (and body). Plus, your mood skyrockets after just 20 minutes of exercise—that’s less time than it takes to watch an episode of Making a Murderer—and the result lasts up to 12 hours. Also? It gives you an excuse to wear yoga pants all day.

5. Enjoy it while it lasts. A student in Norway researched why, despite their brutal weather and staggering lack of sunlight, locals were always so happy. The secret was simple: They just really love winter. You know how you feel on the first nice day of spring, frolicking around outside and wearing seasonally inappropriate outfits? That’s how they feel during the darker months of the year. Norwegians delight in the short days, the arctic temperatures, and the snow (so much snow!). They don’t want to escape the cold; they enjoy it. Not to get all yoga teacher on you, but shifting your mindset just might make all the difference. And if all else fails? Keep in mind that the first day of spring is a month—mere days, really—away.

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