Leading up to the holidays, winter is a highly romanticized time. The imagery of winter is warm crackling fires, winter wonderlands, and caroling.

After the holiday season, winter takes on a different tenor, like a house guest that overstayed its welcome.

The long, cold, dark winters in Maine can be draining. The days are shorter, and the lack of sun can make people feel sluggish. We all have heard about the specter of “winter blues,” but there are ways to ward off the grip of seasonal sadness.

Here are three of my suggestions:

1. Take up a winter hobby

Last winter, I joined a bowling league. Not only did it give me something to look forward to, but I also had a team to hold me accountable for showing up. When the sun goes down at 4 o’clock, 6 p.m. can feel like the middle of the night.

But having a hobby that got me out of the house kept me from giving into the temptation to sleep the winter away. Even if team sports aren’t your thing, there are plenty of hobbies to keep you busy throughout the winter, like pottery classes, knitting, or creating increasingly elaborate snow sculptures in your yard.

2. Attend community events

No matter what time of year, getting involved in community events is a great way to get out of the house and meet your neighbors.

One of my favorite ways to engage with the community is going to the farmer’s market. Although it seems like a summer event, there is still are still winter markets available in most towns. Not only can you meet interesting people, but you can also support the local economy! For me, getting out and meeting people helps keep me connected to what’s happening in my community.

3. Exercise

Adding exercise into your routine can help combat the winter blues.

While I am the first person to politely decline an invitation to the gym, there are plenty of ways to get your body moving and shake off the torpor of mid-winter. In addition, exercising releases endorphins, which in turn helps make you happy. Exercise can come in many forms, and there are plenty of workouts you can do right in your living room. Even if the winter weather prevents you from leaving your house, you can still get exercise.

These three suggestions are not the only ways to ward off the sluggish feeling of winter. There are plenty of ways to prevent the cold and lack of sun from getting you stuck in your own tracks.

And the best part is, the winter is almost over! Every day is getting longer, and soon we’ll be trading our snow pants for swimming shorts.

Kim Carter is a recent graduate of the University of Maine at Augusta. While she is anxiously awaits for graduate school responses, she keeps busy staying involved on campus as a UMA Class Steward, an in-class mentor that helps facilitate student success, and is currently working on a theater project with the university and community.