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5 Ways to Keep the Winter Blues at Bay

close up of green plant leaves

For many people, January through March are the toughest months of the year. Winter trudges along, the days are short while the nights are long and cold weather can leave people inside for most of the day.

According to Mental Health America, approximately 5% of Americans experience seasonal affective disorder. Depending on the particular location, that number can range from 1-10%.

Whether you experience recurring wintertime episodes of depression or just feel a little down, here are a few ways to help you power through this winter.

Get some plants

Close up of green leaves
The new expansion in the Warner College of Natural resources offers additional study space surrounded by live plants. (Nicole Towne | College Avenue)

For Mike Solo, eight-year Fort Collins resident and University Center for the Arts creative director, filling his home and office with greenery helps him deal with SAD. “I’ve never been a big fan of winter,” Solo said. “Having some plants inside the house and being able to see something green, colorful and alive is a daily dose of optimism.”

In total, Solo said he has between four and five dozen plants. On the weekends, he and his dog Andy visit plant nurseries in town to get out of the house. Solo says the green and warmer climate of the greenhouses helps provide some temporary relief in the dead of winter.

Take advantage of the local art

If you’re looking for more fun outings close to home, look no further than up the street. “Any time of the year, but particularly in the winter, going to shows and seeing live music is a great way for me to cope with the reality of winter,” Solo said. Fort Collins has multiple live performances every weekend. The Lincoln Center hosts a full schedule of concerts, plays, musicals and dance performances. Fort Collins also features several smaller and more intimate venues. Check out the Bas Bleu Theatre Company located in an old sugar beet factory off Pine Street. Student tickets are $13 and regular admission is $20.

Spend some time with a furry friend

For Ellie Ewer, CSU resident assistant and student president of the mental health group Active Minds, spending time with her emotional support cat, Puss, is a source of comfort. “Stroking my cat, and having his calming presence is really helpful for me.” If you don’t have a pet yourself, consider volunteering with Animal House or the Fort Collins Cat Rescue to help take care of local cats and dogs in need of a home.

Enjoy a local coffee shop

Mugs, across from the Oval, is a popular study spot with a variety of coffee, teas, and snacks. (Nicole Towne | College Avenue)

Fort Collins is home to over 25 coffee shops, many of which are locally owned and run. “Coffee shops are kind of my go-to because they have that warm and cozy environment,” Ewer said. Whether you need a place to study, work or just need to get out of the house, a coffee shop can provide an easy fix. Ewer frequents the Alley Cat and Starry Night.

Take up a hobby

If some of your favorite activities lose their appeal or are not possible during the winter months, try picking up a new hobby. Many people find the simple and repetitious movements of knitting calming. Try out some new recipes in the kitchen or start writing that memoir you’ve been meaning to start for the last five years.