The Winter Blues: Top 10 Tips for Getting Through the Darkest Months

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Winter got you down? If so, you are certainly not alone. As we switch over to Daylight Savings Time it bring us less sunlight, frigid temperatures and often a sense of accompanying lethargy and apathy.

 

Here’s a list of “Top Ten” ways to help improve your mood and energy level during the winter:
Acknowledge that you feel blue. 
So often we try to deny what we feel because we don’t want to burden others. Admitting you feel down can sometimes lead to feelings of vulnerability and self-doubt. However, when we acknowledge our feelings, it creates an opening for us to let the feeling pass instead of working so hard to push it away. Processing our feelings can also help you to feel less isolated.

Move your body. 
You don’t have to run a marathon or take a spin class to feel the benefit. Take a short walk around the block, vacuum or pick up around the house or just practice some gentle stretching. Any type of movement can have a positive effect on mood and energy levels.
Take in something beautiful everyday. 
It may be the color of the sunset, a picture on your computer, a beautiful poem or quote, a favorite soft blanket. Appealing to our senses counteracts feelings of numbness or apathy we often have during the dark winter months. Take time to notice what feels beautiful about your space and appreciate it.
Light Therapy. 
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects as many as one-third of the population and impacts women twice as often as men. While there is an initial expense in the purchase of the light, daily use has shown to provide a significant improvement in mood.

Laugh! 
Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine and increases the level of endorphins in the body. So watch a favorite comedy that gets you every time, no matter how many times you’ve seen it!
Volunteer. 
Research shows that even a small commitment to a cause leads to feelings of worthiness and improved self-esteem. In addition, the social connection is a great antidote to the isolation many of us experience in the winter months. So go ahead, offer to read to children at a local school or sign up for a park clean-up day. If you’re feeling more ambitious, help organize a neighborhood food drive!
Practice meditation. 
The beauty of this age-old practice is that it can be practiced anytime or anywhere. Today there are many opportunities to learn how to meditate including local classes or c.d.’s that can be downloaded straight to your MP3 player. The Johnson County and KCMO public libraries also have meditation classes on CD’s and DVD’s to check out.

Do something nice for yourself.  Get a massage, take yourself to the movies or buy yourself some flowers. Cultivating love for yourself is a sure fire way to create openness to your spouse, partner or a love interest you haven’t even met! No matter where your love life is, remember that a solid relationship starts from the relationship you share with yourself.

Eat more foods with Omega-3 fatty acids. 
There is a host of evidence that increasing intake of these essential oils found in fish such as salmon and tuna can result in improved mood, concentration and energy. Omega 3 fatty acids also benefit cardiac health and decrease inflammation. If you’re not a fish lover, try walnuts, beans, olive oil or winter squash.
Seek professional help if necessary. 
Clinical depression is more than a case of the blues. If you suspect you are suffering from a clinical depression seek help. Often learning the strategies to help combat the signs and symptoms of depression can go a long way in treating it.