10 Habits That Make You Miserable Every Winter

How to feel better in the cold.

Surprising Causes of Winter Depression

Avoiding exercise

Cooping yourself up inside

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Not applying sunscreen

Being antisocial

It's one thing to cancel dinner plans when the roads are slick; it's another to coop up alone by default. "People are usually isolated because they're feeling down in the dumps anyway, and they don't want to be the low light in the group," says Dr. Dossett. But research shows that socializing makes you happier—group memberships ward off depression, and social interactions are part of what makes exercise so uplifting. If solo jogging is your thing, try running with a group once a week. Or, as Dr. Dossett suggests, find an activity that both you and a friend enjoy, whether it's woodworking class or indie movies, and make time for it together at least once per month.

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Not trying new things

When the weather's warm, you may be more apt to venture outside your comfort zone with a trip to a vegan restaurant or a rock climbing class. The tendency to become isolated makes it easy to fall into a rut. Suddenly, it's February, and you've convinced yourself that it's not worth trying anything new until spring. To spark a change of perspective, take up meditation, suggests Rebecca Erwin Wells, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Health. "People learn how to pay attention to their sensory experiences and then respond," says Dr. Wells. In other words, you'll begin to recognize limiting thoughts, and stop them in their tracks.


Overindulging in comfort foods

"Sometimes food is to comfort us, to make us feel warm," says Lisa Sasson, RD, a clinical associate professor of nutrition at New York University. While tucking into starchy casseroles can make winter feel a little less bleak, too much can leave you feeling sluggish, says Sasson. Your body treats refined carbohydrates—like highly processed grains—as if they're sugars, quickly digesting and absorbing them. Your blood sugar will spike, followed by an energy crash when your body secretes insulin to process that excess glucose. Try replacing fatigue-causing carbs with healthier alternatives, such as whole wheat pasta, which has far more protein and fiber than its refined, white counterpart. And you can still have those warming dishes, like soups and stews filled with low-calorie, highly nutritious veggies, says Sasson.

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Drinking too much

What would a holiday party be without a mug of spiked cider? Or a cup of eggnog? Or a glass of wine? Or a flute of champagne? Control yourself: Binge drinking can weaken your immune system, according to a 2015 study from the University of Maryland (not to mention all the other negative health effects of drinking too much). A runny nose, sore throat, and body aches (or worse) are sure to leave you feeling miserable, so add alcohol moderation to your cold-and-flu prevention checklist, right along with washing your hands and getting enough sleep.

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Taking long, hot showers

On chilly mornings and sub-zero nights, there's a temptation to indulge in long, steamy showers—warming up can feel next to impossible otherwise. Despite the immediate satisfaction, however, super-hot water can dry out and damage your skin, leaving you itchy, scaly, and uncomfortable, Dr. Katta says. Stick with lukewarm water instead, and when you get out of the shower, pat gently with a towel before applying moisturizer while your skin is still damp. This ensures that water won't evaporate from your skin—and take moisture with it, Dr. Katta says.

Not moisturizing enough

Even if you avoid hot showers, you'll almost certainly wind up with dry, itchy skin if you don't moisturize. Between the icy conditions outside, desert-like air inside, and requisite hand-washing to ward off cold and flu germs, your skin is under attack from damaging, drying elements throughout the winter. Rather than hydrating your skin with lotions, which tend to be high in water and fail to really lock moisture into skin, try a cream or ointment, suggests Dr. Katta. Find a product with a consistency that you like, and apply often to damp skin, including after showering, washing your hands, and using hand sanitizer, she advises.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.