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19 easy ways to feel happier this winter

'The Winter of Our Discontent' is upon us.

As the temperature continues to drop, the days continue to shorten and the pandemic rages on, I cannot help but be reminded of the title of a poem by William Shakespeare: Now Is the Winter of Our Discontent.

Because this pandemic-winter is going to be rough. The fear and uncertainty of COVID-19 are very much all around us, but now we need to deal with it during the winter, when many of our usual uplifting outlets won't be available to us.

While our physical health is certainly at the forefront of our concerns, our mental health needs attention, too. If you're dreading the months that lie ahead, know that you're not alone—but also know that there's good news: There are a lot of easy, inexpensive and science-backed ways we can improve our moods every day.

Now, the one hugely important caveat to remember is that there is a big difference between feeling a little down and having a mental health diagnosis such as depression or anxiety. Mental health diagnoses are medical issues—you do not have control over them, and they usually require the help of a trained professional. None of the "happiness boosting" tricks below are meant to cure mental illness—so if you are suffering, please, please seek help. You are not alone, and you are so deserving of support. Reach out to your health care provider, a therapist or visit a site like psychologytoday.com to get started. And if you ever feel like harming yourself or others, reach out for help immediately.

But if you are in need of an emotional boost, here are 19 easy ways to feel happier this winter:

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