Beat the winter blues

Winter. Just when we thought it was over, Jack Frost pulled a fast one on us. If you have been watching the news, you know that more than a third of the country was pounded with snow last week, causing power outages, canceled school and work, and treacherous driving conditions. If that is not enough to drive anyone crazy, I do not know what is. Even though Punxsutawney Phil (you know, the weather-forecasting groundhog from Pennsylvania) did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring, it feels like winter will never end.

Winter blues is that down feeling you get when the days are shorter and it just cannot seem to get any warmer. Bundling up, day after day, going to work before the sun rises only to go home after it sets. It is enough to get anyone down. But your cheapest health insurance might not cover a trip to the therapist, so here are some ways to beat the winter blues.

* Get active. There are plenty of winter sports that can keep you moving. Try skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowball fights and even snow shoeing. Not a big adventure type? Shoveling your walk can get your body working and calories burning. Why is important to move? Exercise is a proven way to push away the blues. It gets your endorphins flowing, which gives you that happy feeling. Exercise is also good for you. Also, the extra holiday bulge can add to feeling down. Exercising has the double benefit of improving your mood and burning off the calories.
* Keep your mind active. It would be easy to sit and veg out in front of the tv. But keeping your mind active and satisfied is a sure fire way to ward off the winter blues. Try reading a book, learning something new or keeping up with a long forgotten hobby. Your mind needs a break from computer time, especially if you work in front of a computer time. Give it a break and try something else.
* Connect with people. Cheerful conversations and interactions with people can help you avoid feeling isolated and can be a real pick me up. Connect with an old friend, visit with family or do something fun with a neighbor. This touch of human contact can be a real mood booster.
* Do something for someone else. When you have the blues, it is easy to fall into your own troubles and avoid thinking about anything else. But doing something for someone else is the best way to forget about yourself and your own problems. Volunteer at a local school or food bank, make thank you cards for someone who has helped you out recently, visit elderly neighbors or make a treat for someone. This is a double win. Good for you and good for your community.
* Get some good ol’ vitamin D. This nutrient is a big mood booster, and often deficient during the winter. Try and spend some time soaking up what sun rays you can. If not, you can get lamps with full spectrum lighting that have the same effect.