Cold, long, and dark winters linked with stress-inducing job responsibilities and the holidays have long been labeled as catalysts for the depressed moods many Americans experience. Add in the current economic turmoil and financial crisis and it's a recipe for pervasive winter blues – or something more serious, such as seasonal affective disorder.

Things You Will Need

Yet, remedying the winter blues can be as simple as a few lifestyle changes and a more optimistic perspective.

Step 1

Call up some friends and have drinks. Or better yet, plan a weekly get-together. Not only can frequent socializing improve mental cognizance, but it can have a profound and direct impact on your happiness. Research shows that frequent interaction with not only happy friends and acquaintances but strangers as well are extremely influential on your own happiness and contentment.

Step 2

Plan a Vacation
Book a trip somewhere warm and exotic (think Florida or Southern California if you're on a budget) and use all that paid time-off you've been accumulating! Simply having something to look forward to can significantly improve your mood and help you feel better. Furthermore, actually taking a break and getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D can work wonders on your mental and physical health.

Step 3

Giving service to those less fortunate provides you the opportunity to focus on the needs of others instead of your own troubles, resulting in an instant pick-me-up and emotional high. During the winter months, soup kitchens and shelters for the homeless are always looking for an extra pair of hands so take some time and volunteer.

Step 4

Adopt a Pet

If you're in the market for a new, furry friend, consider adopting one from your local animal shelter or humane society. January is one of the best times of the year to do so since unfortunately many pets are returned after the holidays once people realize they cannot adequately care for them. Not only will you be rescuing an animal from an uncertain fate, but having a loyal companion around during the long winter can provide you warmth and comfort.

Step 5

Avoid Binge Drinking
Alcohol is actually a depressant so while you think a cold beer or glass of wine can cheer you up, it will actually make you feel worse. And while moderate drinking is fine, binge drinking (consuming five more drinks in one sitting) can leave you feeling more depressed, exhausted, and ill than before.

Step 6

Amp Up your Energy
The winter blues are often replete with symptoms of fatigue and exhaustion; one of the best ways to alleviate such symptoms is to boost your energy levels and there are a myriad of ways to do so. Try the tried and true method of exercise to get your heart pumping and endorphins flowing. Make sure you get enough sleep – seven to eight hours a night. Other great but more temporary methods to boost energy levels include a cup of coffee or an energy supplement; caffeine in moderation can increase alertness and endurance and improve your mood.

If a simple case of the winter blues escalates into something more serious or to the point where you feel completely overwhelmed or trapped, seek therapy. You can learn new coping skills and how to deal with stress and negative emotion.

Tips & Warnings