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Seasonal Affect Disorder (aptly abbreviated as SAD) is a form of depression that is triggered by the seasons of the year. It's believed to be related to loss of sunlight in the fall and winter. About 5% of people experience SAD, and another 10-15% of people have a milder version of SAD

But even if you're not one of the 5-15% of people diagnosed with SAD, wintertime can really take a toll on our physical and mental health. So, here are 7 scientifically proven ways to help improve your mood.

1) Get some sun. Our bodies and minds crave it. In fact, artificial light boxes have been used to treat SAD since the 80's, but not everyone has access to one. So remember to open your blinds and curtains and let in as much sunlight as possible.

2) Eat well and exercise. According to one 2014 study, a well-balanced, high-quality diet may be associated with better mental health. And it's no secret that exercise reduces stress and triggers our brains to release our "feel-good chemicals," endorphins. Plus, to reward yourself after the gym, you can even indulge in a piece of dark chocolate because it's also been proven to boost our mood.

3) Volunteer. Volunteering benefits not only those we serve, but our overall well-being, too. It helps us feel socially connected, and is believed to lower stress and blood pressure levels.

4) Listen to your favorite music. Recent evidence shows that music activates every part of the brain, and listening (or playing) can make you happier, healthier, smarter, and more productive.

5) Tidy up and light your favorite candle. A clean environment promotes well-being and reduces stress. And our olfactory responses are directly linked to the emotional center of our brains. So a whiff of your favorite scent can cause a flood of positive feelings.

6) Find something to look forward to. This task could be as simple as asking a friend to dinner this weekend, or as in-depth as booking plane tickets for your next vacation. Pick something you look forward to and love to do, write it on your calendar, and make it happen.

7) Last but not least, remember the light at the end of the tunnel. The first official day of spring is just a little over a month away!