(NC) Winter is a tough time of year for many of us. Long, dark nights and cold weather can bring anybody down. And with the ongoing stress of living through a pandemic, this winter is feeling even tougher than usual for many.

Here are a few tips to help keep you healthy and happy this season:

Take care of your mental health.

Maybe it’s been on your to-do list for a while, or maybe it’s never crossed your mind. But with the year we had, most of us could use some professional support when it comes to our mental health. If you don’t want to talk to somebody, find ways to take some time for self-care.

Get moving.

Yes, this one’s cliché, but it’s well known for a reason and is worth the reminder. Exercise is not just about your body. It’s about your mind, too. The endorphins you make from breaking a sweat are powerful mood boosters that will amp up your energy and help you stay positive.

Check in on family and friends.

As we all try to limit interactions with people to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it’s easy to lose touch with others. Plan a regular phone call with a family member or friend, organize a Zoom party with friends or check in on others around you to see how they are doing. Reaching out to help others will make you feel better as well.

If you are struggling and don’t know where to turn, you can dial 2-1-1. This national helpline is answered by real people who will talk to you about your situation and provide information on local community or government supports that fit your needs. This includes programs and services related to mental health, financial assistance and utility relief, food and housing programs and much more.

The service is free and confidential. In a survey done by 211 Ontario, 95 per cent of callers say they would call again or recommend the service to a friend or family member. The service is accessible 7 days a week in over 150 languages.

If you need non-emergency help, you can dial 2-1-1 any time.

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