You know the feeling \u2014 it\u2019s late afternoon and the sky is already darkening. You might be driving to and from work in the dark, and then spend most of the day stuck indoors.\nWhen the days get shorter, you may begin to feel a less enthusiastic and active. You may find yourself going to bed earlier, sleeping a bit more, and even eating more. Many people notice slight fluctuations in their routine and mood during winter months.\nLearn more. Contact Behavioral Health Services at UPMC. Call\u00a0\u200b1-877-624-4100 or 412-624-1000\nPeople who feel this change much more dramatically experience more than the winter blues. They may have periods when they have difficulty functioning and are affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD).\nShorter days and a lack of sunlight during the winter months may cause symptoms of SAD such as:\n\nTiredness and decreased activity level\nCrying spells and mood swings\nGrouchiness\nTrouble concentrating\nBody aches\nLoss of sex drive\nTrouble sleeping or a desire to hibernate\nCravings for carbohydrates and\/or overeating\n\nSo, what can you do? There are several treatments you can use to cope with SAD.\nWays to Deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder\nGet outside\nMake a plan to get outside during daylight hours, particularly in the morning.\nConsider taking a short walk during your lunch break or a 10-minute stroll in the afternoon. If you do eat inside, search for a spot near a window.\nConsider trying a winter sport or activity. Make plans to go ice skating on the weekend, or buy some snowshoes and go for a hike. Snowshoeing can be a fun, relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors. It can also lead to a lot of belly laughs as you try to figure out how to walk in your new gear.\nTry light therapy\nLight therapy is good for coping with SAD because it replaces missing sunlight with artificial bright light. It involves sitting in front of a specially designed light box for 30 to 45 minutes each day, typically in the morning.\nLight therapy is affordable, but talk with your doctor before trying it. UPMC’s Behavioral and Mental Health Services also can help you find the right therapy.\nMake plans with friends and family\nWhen you’re feeling down, it can be hard to make time to see people. Try to schedule some fun activities with family and friends, which can help boost your mood. Make a list of things you love to do, whether it’s going to the movies or browsing a bookstore with a friend.\nLet loved ones know how SAD is affecting you so they can encourage you to get out of the house and have some fun even when you’re not up for it.\nRelated: Hope for Those with Treatment-Resistant Depression\nTake up a hobby\nWinter is a good time to try out a new hobby. If you don’t know what you want to do, consider things you liked to do as a kid.\nDid you love to visit the library or throw around a ball? Dust off that library card, or gather your kids or nieces and nephews for a game of catch in the backyard. If you want to try something brand new, like knitting or meditation, look for classes or groups in your area.\nFeeling the effects of SAD? Visit the UPMC Behavioral and Mental Health Services website to find resources.\nKeep a regular schedule and eat a balanced diet\nTry to get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Shorter daylight hours during the winter months can disturb your body clock.\nKeeping a regular schedule also can help improve your mood and energy level. Same is true for meals, so eat at regular times and follow a balanced diet. Avoid sugary beverages and drink plenty of water. Avoid caffeine in the evenings and be mindful of your alcohol use. Drinking alcohol can have a negative effect on your natural sleep stages.\nRELATED:\u00a0What’s the Link Between Depression and Heart Disease?\nGet treated for SAD\nIt\u2019s normal to feel a bit more tired and down during the winter months. If these feelings interfere with your ability to function and enjoy life, talk to your doctor. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that is treatable with psychotherapy and antidepressant medicine.