When the weather gets colder and the days grow shorter, our moods can plummet. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a legitimate mood disorder related to major depression, but even for those who don’t suffer from this more severe disorder, the winter months can be—well—a bummer.

What to do when the snow and the early sunset have you down? There’s a strong belief that the strength and duration of daylight has an effect on our brain chemistry, and can lead to “the winter blues”—that’s why many sufferers of SAD use special light boxes to treat their depression with light therapy. For those of us without SAD, though, spending a little bit of time outside on a sunny day can do wonders!

Here are some more simple tips that can boost your mood–some of them immediately!

1. Eat your breakfast. Remember when your mom told you it was the most important meal of the day? Research has proven her right. Eating a healthy, filling breakfast can improve your mood and give you plenty of energy for the rest of the day.

2. Keep your plate colorful. The most colorful fruits and vegetables are often the ones with the highest incidences of vitamins and antioxidants that not only keep your body running, but improve brain function–and therefore your mood! Some superfoods include blueberries, oranges, broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes.

3. Take those omega-3s. Fish oil may sound less than appetizing, but studies show that it has holistic health benefits; omega-3s can help your joints, your heart and your brain all in one go! There’s even evidence to suggest that they can help treat depression.

4. Get social. Have errands to run? Don’t go solo! Call a friend or invite a family member to accompany you; friendly conversation with someone you care about is an instant mood-booster.

5. Work up a sweat. It’s no secret that a workout–even a moderate one–can increase the release of mood-improving endorphins. If it’s too cold to go for a run, bring your workout inside or take it to the gym! You’ll feel the benefits even more if you include a workout buddy! Remember that seniors should always consult a physician before starting any exercise regimen.

6. Drink up. A vast majority of Americans don’t get all the water they need. What’s the connection to your mood? Dehydration can cause fatigue and low energy, which can exacerbate those winter blues! Make sure you’re getting enough water in your daily routine.

7. Get in tune. Music can be a major mood-booster; listen to your favorites throughout the day, while you’re at the office, the gym, or just doing chores around the house. For an added benefit, up the tempo–and feel free to dance!

8. Get a good night’s sleep. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but in today’s busy world it’s also a mood-booster that often gets jettisoned in favor of productivity. The upside of getting a full night’s sleep–you’ll feel the effects immediately!

Seniors are more prone to depression than many other groups, thanks to increased isolation, a loss of friends and loved ones and a feeling of having lost their usefulness or purpose in life, among other things. Depression can also be a symptom of more serious illnesses that plague the elderly, including nutritional deficiencies and Alzheimer’s disease. If an aging loved one is showing signs of depression, talk to them about seeing a doctor.

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