Beating the Winter Blues

The warmth of Chanukah can be felt in everything from spending time with loved ones to lighting the menorah candles.

However, the end of Chanukah means blustery weather and the shortest days of the year, and both can leave us feeling blue.

There are things we can do, both mentally and physically, not only to get through this time, but also to thrive in it.

First, change our perspectives, if possible, and think of the frigid temperatures as a way tore-energize ourselves. They can be invigorating. (If you really can’t stand the cold, start looking forward to spring right away.)

Getting back into a routine can also make us feel better. Going to school after vacation and seeing friends can do the trick for kids. Catching up with co-workers can be satisfying for adults.

Wearing bright colors can lighten our moods. So can dressing in our softest sweaters, the ones that are very cozy. Another idea: Pick a day that the whole family spends in pajamas playing board games or watching movies together.

Think of pleasant things that are unique to winter, such as the Super Bowl and new episodes of your
favorite TV shows. In addition, hot chocolate and comfort food taste especially delicious when it’s cold. After all, what’s better than tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich?

Staying active is important. The endorphins released during exercise can lift our spirits and keep us from gaining weight.

If your family likes the chilly air, ice skating, outdoor walking and skiing are good activities, but if you’re not a cold-weather fan, mall walking, classes such as Zumba and exercise tapes for a home workout can help.

No need to dread shoveling snow. It’s good exercise, if done correctly, and a nice way to see neighbors.

It’s essential to stay social during the winter months. Set aside time to chat with friends, take a course — learn Italian or how to make a spinach soufflé — and check out the Internet and newspapers for free events.

Volunteering is an excellent method to stay involved. If you like the theater or museums, become an usher and see the shows/exhibits while you’re there. If you prefer, you can always hold babies in a neonatal intensive care unit or walk dogs at the Humane Society or the SPCA.

In a rut and can afford it? Go on a day trip for a change of scenery.

If you stay home, organize your life. Clean out a closet or the refrigerator. It’ll make you feel good to get rid of the clutter and cross something off your “to do” list.

It can be normal to feel a bit down this time of year, but be aware of possible medical conditions, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and clinical depression. (Signs for depression can be a lack of interest in things you used to like, sleeping too much or not enough, not wanting to be around people or eating too much or too little.) If you think you may be depressed or have SAD, contact your doctor. There’s no need to suffer. Help is available.

We’ll be celebrating Tu B’Shevat soon, and what could be more life affirming than communing with nature, planting trees and eating delicious fruits? Spring will also be here before we know it.

Cindy Davis, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, is an education specialist at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital.

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