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If cold weather and lack of sun are a depressing combination for you, it is time to prepare for the coming winter months.
It is especially important to meet winter proactively if you typically feel down during these chilly, short days. We can take a tip from Winston Churchill who said, "Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning."
Most of us function best when we have activities or outings to look forward to. Order tickets to a local theater or musical event, sign up for a yoga class or ballroom dancing. Join a bowling league or a reading discussion group.
You might plan a midwinter vacation or just a weekend getaway. There are always places that need volunteers. Whatever you choose, it is important to get out of the house regularly and socialize. If you enjoy entertaining, January and February might be the perfect time.
Melatonin is the main hormone governing your sleep cycle. It allows you to fall asleep at night. During dark and cold months your body’s production of melatonin can be thrown off balance; there may not be enough manufactured during the night. If this happens, melatonin production can continue after you get up in the morning, causing you to feel groggy or exhausted.
Some people are helped by taking melatonin supplements. Doses are commonly 0.5-1.5 mg daily; you may want to check with your doctor before taking it. Getting the extra melatonin should allow a better night’s sleep and a more bright-eyed day.
This should go without saying, but many people complain about the miserable cold though they never cover their ears, and their coat is too thin. Even very cold weather is bearable if you are dressed for it. It can even be enjoyable.
If you haven’t already, invest in the kind of jacket or coat, hat, and mitts that will actually keep you toasty on nasty days. There are boots that keep toes warm in below zero weather, and buying a pair of flannel-lined jeans can make a big difference when you are out running errands. Down jackets are not that puffy anymore and many are machine washable.
Catch as much sunlight as you can now and during the winter. If you go out for lunch, sit near a window. Keep the home shades up and curtains open as long as it is daylight. You may also want to use full spectrum light bulbs. Though natural sunlight is always best, full spectrum bulbs mimic natural light and may help you beat the winter blahs.
To help your body store and use the light make sure your diet gives you plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. You can do this by eating fatty fish (salmon, sardines, halibut, tuna) and flaxseed, or consider taking a fish oil, or squalene supplement.
Make a promise to yourself now that you will not beat yourself up if you experience some winter blues. Think of the blues as a feeling and like all feelings they come and go.
Melancholy times, though maybe uncomfortable, can serve a purpose if you refuse to feel angry or guilty about it. It is a good time to rest, or consider where you have been and where you hope to go, or to take up that hobby you never quite get around to.
If you usually become more than blue during the winter and experience difficult depressive symptoms consider seeing a professional counselor, physician, or psychiatrist now. There are different types of therapy that can help, including various light therapies, and you can discuss medication options.
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