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Tips: Dealing with the Winter Blues
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, February 2007

If you feel a little gloomy this time of year, you’re not alone.

The "winter blues" affect many of us when it’s cold, wet and dark outside. If you feel you are particularly low during the winter months -- dealing with a bit of depression, sleeping more than usual, experiencing decreased energy, difficulty when concentrating, avoiding social situations, impatience, desire to eat sweet foods and gaining more weight than normal -- you may have a case of the winter blues.

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is getting a lot of press lately as more and more people claim to suffer emotionally during the fall and winter. People who have S A D usually begin feeling these symptoms in the mid to late fall, through the winter and well into the beginning of spring. It is worse if you work in a place without access to sunlight (cubicles without windows, basement offices etc.).

More women than men have S A D and often they begin to have the symptoms after they are in their 30s. Light therapy may help people who suffer from this disorder and they should be assessed to see whether they, indeed, have it and also if light boxes will help.

• Get Outside as Much as Possible - Even if it means bundling up and taking a walk at lunchtime just so you get some exposure to fresh air and natural sunlight.

• Let There Be Light - When indoors, sit near a window as much as possible. If a light box is recommended by a doctor, use it for about ½ hour each day (or more, depending on what is prescribed).

• Engage with People - Interaction with people is a must. So engage with people you enjoy being with and do things that you enjoy doing together.

• Live Healthfully - Eat nutritious food and have a regular exercise routine (best to do this at a gym where you will encounter other people so you can socialize as well as raise the endorphin level.)

Get out of the Winter Blues rut by getting a new perspective from being outdoors, with other people and living a healthy life.

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