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5 Ways to Escape the Winter Blues

 
Beating the Winter Blues

 

By now you’ve heard the news – the official weather prognosticating groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, emerged from his burrow and saw his shadow, thus, we’ll have six more weeks of winter. That could be the most depressing news you’ve heard in a while, especially if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. Longer nights, cold temperatures, and gray days all figure into a general feeling of sadness and depression. But, there are steps you can take to reduce its effects. Here are five ways to escape the winter blues.

Take a Hike
It’s easy to come up with a list of reasons not to go outside – it’s cold; I’m tired; it’s dark. But being outside and active are the best things you can do to combat the effects of SAD. If you really think about it, fretting about going outside where the temperature is a little challenging is worse than the actual being outside. Once you’re out taking your walk or on the trail, the scenery and your hiking companion make it more fun than you’d anticipated. Dress in layers and cover your hands and head. The sunlight and fresh air will do you good.

Spend Some Time in the Kitchen
There’s no denying that eating our favorite comfort foods during the winter makes us feel better. You don’t have as many reasons to head outside like ballgames, gardening, or concerts, so pick up a new cookbook and try some new foods. Weekends are a great time to come up with meals for the rest of the week, so try a healthier spin on your favorite comfort foods and have them ready to heat and eat after coming home from work or picking up the kids at basketball practice.

Plan a Progressive Dinner
OK, so we like food, but this activity rolls three important SAD-busting activities into one. First, the planning part will likely require getting together with friends and neighbors. It’s important to socialize during the winter months because it will improve your mood. Second, you’ll get a bit of exercise walking from one place to another for each course. Third, a dinner like this presents opportunities to eat healthier and to try new foods and menus.

Practice a Little Yoga
Yoga can be an excellent way to relieve stress and depression. There are many forms of yoga, from ones that are highly meditative to forms that are extremely physically challenging. A gentle yoga class will have an instructor that leads you through breathing exercises and poses that increase your flexibility. Yoga may reduce your blood pressure and heart rate. It’s a time to focus on you and your body, to be meditative and at peace, oh, and it’s also a little socializing, too.

Wear Bright Colors
You may have noticed the tendency to mimic the weather in your winter wardrobe. Throw open your closet – do you see lots of dark colors, gray, black, navy, etc? That’s natural, and there’s a scientific reason behind it. The darker, grayer days in the winter make it more difficult for our eyes to tolerate brighter colors, but that’s not a reason to put them all away. Adding a little color to your wardrobe will not only positively affect your mood, but will also influence the moods of those around you. Brighter colors are associated with warmth and happiness, so try adding a touch of color to your daily ensemble. For instance, wear a bright blue t-shirt under a v-neck sweater. Add in some colorful jewelry; accessorize with a multi-colored scarf; try a brightly-colored tie. We bet you’ll get a compliment or two.

Hang in there. Spring really is on the way, but while you’re waiting, these steps will keep most of the gloom at bay.