12 tips to beat the winter blahs

Call it the winter blues, SAD or cabin fever, it's no fun. Here is some help to cheer you through to spring.

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  • It's about this time every year that people begin to sing the blues. That first snowfall is magical. You have so much to look forward to: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's. And then comes mid-January and February and life becomes a little disenchanting. The bills come due, and there may be a few pounds to work off.

  • Here are some helpful tips to cheer you on until spring comes shining through:

  • Lighten up

  • Sunlight deprivation is key to winter moodiness. Open up those drapes and curtains, and let in as much sunlight as possible. If it is mostly overcast where you are, consider investing in a "sunbox" which is equipped with special fluorescent bulbs that mimic sunlight. "Light enters the eye, which activates a body clock system that is similar to what controls seasonal breeding and hibernation in animals," says psychiatrist Daniel F. Kripke, MD, who conducted the world's first controlled study of bright light therapy for depression in 1981. "This system is connected to the brain's appetite hard wiring, which might explain why you may have more food cravings in winter."

  • Build those immunities

  • This time of year also marks the onset of cold and flu season. Do what you can to build your immunities to stay healthy. Being sick triggers depression, so eat those onions and oranges and get lots of garlic. Exercise proper hand washing and tell everyone around you to sneeze like a vampire (into your cape — the crook of your elbow). Now is a good time to pop a multi-vitamin, as well.

  • Get on your bike and ride

  • It doesn't have to be a bike, but exercise releases those delicious endorphins which will help cheer you in more than one way. Lighten your body and your mood.

  • Produce

  • Try to work in some fresh produce. A big salad at lunch tricks you into feeling like you got it from a summer garden. Opt for fresh fruit rather than syrupy canned varieties and steam your veggies to keep them more colorful and less mushy.

  • Get out the coloring book

  • Find ways to get more color into your environment. Outside may be dull and grey, but inside doesn't have to be. Buy a bright throw pillow for the living room. Buy a nice colorful oil painting or print for the wall. Change to a higher light bulb wattage until spring.

  • Keep one resolution

  • Keeping your word to yourself will make you feel more powerful than winter. Stick to something.

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  • Give yourself a treat

  • Don't do like my friend, Judy, and have a $500 depression (she gauged her depression in dollar figures), but treat yourself to a new release movie or a little trinket.

  • Cozy up to a fire

  • If you don't have a fireplace, take the chill out of winter by tuning into a fireplace channel (there's one on Netflix) or buy a CD of a flickering flame. Some even come with classical music. It really does warm the spirit.

  • Throw a party

  • Planning a get-together and treating friends to a fun evening will give you something to look forward to. Make a big pot of stock and invite everyone to bring a can of something to throw in. Serve bread sticks (lots of garlic, of course). Keep it simple, but fun.

  • Get enough sleep

  • Allow yourself a little more sleep this time of year to help with your immunities and get you through the sluggish days.

  • If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

  • It's going to be winter whether you like it or not. Might just as well try having some good outdoor fun. Build a snowman with the family. Go sledding. Have a snowball fight. Try to get out during sunlight hour for at least 30 minutes a day.

  • Watch what you drink

  • Sugary drinks will leave you in a slump. Alcohol is a depressant and won't do you any favors. Opt for lots of water daily.

  • Spring is just around the corner, and as my mother says, "The sun is gonna shine on your back door someday." You can do this.

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Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom.

Website: http://www.beckytheauthor.weebly.com

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