During the long months of winter, many people experience feelings of depression and loneliness. This condition, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also sometimes referred to as the winter blues, can make the short days and frigid weather unbearable. For those who live in a small and dim-lit apartment, SAD may particularly take hold. However, there are a number of ways you can nip seasonal affective disorder in the bud in your living space. Don't let the blues bring you down this winter, here are five ways to avoid SAD: 

1. Schedule activities in advance 
When the weather outside is cold and snowy, it can be tough to find the motivation to leave your apartment to meet up with friends, go to the gym or run errands. This is especially true when you get a last minute call for a social event and you're lounging in your pajamas watching television or reading a book. However, if you commit to going out in advance, you'll feel more obligated to actually showing up. For example, try signing up for a class at your gym or putting together a team for a weekly trivia night at your local pub. That way, you'll have a reason to regularly leave the house, and SAD will be a thing of the past. 

2. Host get-togethers 
Another option for socializing is to simply bring the party to you. Consider hosting a weekly game night, happy hour or movie showing at your apartment. Not only will it give you a regular opportunity to see your friends, but also provide motivation to keep your apartment clean and tidy. In time, your apartment will become the go-to location for your friends to hang out, and you won't have to deal with feelings of isolation during a long, cold winter. 

3. Try light therapy 
Buying a light box or heat lamp is a great way to ward off SAD. Of course, natural sunlight is always preferred, so make sure to also spend a bit of time outside soaking up all the rays you can. Since the winter is often much more cloudy than the summer, make sure to take advantage of warm, sunny days and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Consider trying out a winter sport such as skiing or ice skating to get some exercise and sunlight at the same time. 

4. Start using your kitchen 
Eating poorly is bad for both your physical and mental health – plain and simple. If you've fallen into the habit of eating microwave dinners and ready-bake pizzas, winter is the perfect time to start making eating healthy a priority. Eating healthy will help whisk away the winter blues, as well as keep you more alert throughout the day. If you keep a rather hectic work schedule, consider prepping several healthy meals or snacks in one sitting and storing them in the refrigerator. 

5. Exercise 
It can be hard to make exercise a priority during the winter if you're an avid runner or cyclist. Although, just because the bad weather is keeping you cooped up indoors doesn't mean you can't get in a good workout. Sign up for a month-by-month gym membership so that if you decide to cancel it once the weather gets warm again it won't break the bank. If the gym is too expensive for your current budget, consider trying out home workout tapes. You can always create your own workout regimen with a few simple items such as free weights, a yoga mat and a medicine ball.