Five Ways to Ward off the Winter Blues

depression counseling - overland parkAs we experience the shorter days and cold nights of winter, even the best of us can get a little down. The “winter blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterized by mild depression, lack of motivation, and low energy that many people experience.

Here’s how you can help keep the blues at bay.

1. Have Fun.
Do something spontaneous or fun from your childhood, like snow angels, snowball fight, sledding or catching snowflakes on your tongue. Reliving and remembering a time when things were simpler can warm your heart and your spirit. Maybe even get out paper and scissors and make a paper snowflake and decorate a glass mirror or door.

2. Exercise
As if we needed another reason to get fit! Exercise isn’t only for maintaining your weight and staying healthy . It’s great for relieving the stresses of life. Plus, the effects of a good workout can last for several hours after you hit the showers. You’ll have more energy throughout the day, and your metabolism with stay elevated too. Exercise also helps your mind by releasing those “feel good chemicals” that improve your mood.

3. Get Some Sun
Sunlight not only provides us with Vitamin D but it also improves your mood. Lack of sunlight can cause many people to become depressed without knowing why! Sunlight exposure releases neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. Try to spend a little more time outdoors. Keep your shades up during the day to let more light in. Sit near windows in restaurants, during lunch, and during class. Try changing a light bulb in your house to “full spectrum” bulbs that mimic natural light and actually have the same affects on your mind as the real thing. You can also purchase a therapeutic light at Costco or Sam’s Club.

 4. Limit Alcohol
Staying in with a cold beer or glass of wine may seem like a good idea, but many people who feel down also tend to turn to alcohol. But alcohol is actually a depressant, and rather than improving your mood, it only makes it worse and masks the feelings. Moderate drinking is fine for most people, but avoid binge drinking (defined as having 5 or more drinks in one sitting) to ensure you don’t create any new regrets.

5. Get Social Support
Don’t underestimate the power of friends, family, mentors, co-workers, and neighbors. Who can you turn to when you’re down and need a pick-me-up? Keep a mental list of these special people and don’t be afraid to ask for help or encouragement when you need it. Something as simple as a phone call, a chat over coffee, or a nice email or letter can brighten your mood.

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