Life Notes: Therapist Helps Banish the Winter Blues
by Erin Rockett, LPC, LMFT

Often the joys of the holiday season are too frequently followed by the winter blues. Combined, effects of post holiday bills, seasonal extra pounds, and weeks of cold, gloomy, rainy weather may take a toll on even the sunniest disposition. While we languish away the rainy chill, take a few tips to brighten your outlook until the sunnier days of spring arrive.

*Pay attention to proper rest and nutrition. Cold weather brings people together indoors, and ’tis the season for germs to also gather. A properly rested and nourished person’s immune system is more readily able to fight off colds and viruses. Recently published medical studies show that sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to crave simple carbohydrates (junk food), and consequently are more vulnerable to weight gain.

*Stay active. Exercise raises levels of endorphins, the natural feel-good chemicals in our bodies.

*Attempt to get some exposure to natural light every day. Exposure to sunlight produces vitamin D and influences production of other hormones which regulate the wake/sleep cycle.

*Have difficulty waking up? Brighten up your mornings with lighting, and you may shake the sleepiness sooner. Light triggers our bodies to decrease production of melatonin, a hormone which promotes sleepiness.

*Feeling down? Put on some catchy tunes, or music that you associate with happy times. Studies indicate that exposure to music associated with positive memories promotes alertness and attentiveness in some people.

*Experience the refreshing power of flowers and fruit. Exposure to bright colors and pleasant fragrances often lifts a dull mood, and piques the senses. Bonus: fresh fruit is a heart-healthy snack for most individuals.

*Have a cup of hot chocolate for a quick pick-me-up. Many guilt-free versions are available, and according to recently published studies, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants.

Finally, if you notice significant changes in sleep patterns, appetite, mood, or behavior which last more than a few days, please consult your healthcare professional. Some people experiencing the “winter blues” may actually be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of potentially serious depressive disorder often associated with the lower light levels of winter season.

The Life Notes articles are written by staff of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and are published in The Ruston Daily Leader.

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