How to Beat the Winter Blues

In the movie, Groundhog Day, the lead character, played by Bill Murray, finds himself living the day February 2nd over and over again. He’s a weatherman. When he does the weather report after living through the grim, gray day for the umpteenth time, he says that “it’s cold with no relief in sight.” Many of us feel like the months from November to April are an endless succession of miserable days, and find our mood turning pretty cold and gray along with the weather.

What can you do to get through the winter doldrums?

First of all, recent research indicates that many of us suffer from low levels of Vitamin D, the good hormone we get from time in the sun. This can impact many aspects of our health, including mood, and can contribute to depression. To stave off this part of the seasonal malady, make sure you start the day with 3 supports: a good multi-vitamin, the right amount of fish oil, and 2000 units of Vitamin D. I know you don’t want to get out of bed, but you can manage to stick a few pills in your mouth! Here’s an easy way to get this stuff and save some money.

Second, the most important nutrient we can take to make us feel better is contact with other human beings. This is a time when people tend to isolate. It’s understandable why you don’t want to leave the house when it is cold and wet outside. But the greatest mood lifter is the warmth of other people. Reach out, get out, and connect. If there is no one in your life, get a massage, go to an AA meeting, join Toastmasters, or volunteer. Your low mood may make you feel particularly self-conscious and alone during this time of year, but what you don’t realize is how many people feel the way you do.

Third, if you don’t already have one, start seeing a good therapist. Don’t let yourself sink down without asking for help. Sometimes, depression is nature’s way of telling us there is some way that we are not living the life we are meant to live. This can be a good thing because it can be the beginning of  transformation. Working with a  good therapist, the winter can be a time of introspection when you can learn about yourself, and thus plant the seeds of change that can take root and sprout in the months to follow.

Fourth, make sure you are getting exercise. The body heat that you will generate with an hour on the elliptical trainer will keep you toasty for hours. It is also a great mood lifter.

Fifth, research also shows that getting enough light can relieve the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, (SAD) the fancy name for the winter blues. There are plenty of light boxes on the market that can help with this. Here’s one. Uplift Technologies DL930 Day-Light 10,000 Lux SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Lamp

Once you are seeing a good therapist, if your mood doesn’t lift you may choose to get some support from anti-depressant medications. For more information on meds for depression, and other alternative treatments, click here.

Remember, just as day follows night, after the first day of winter the days begin to get longer again. Before you know it spring, with all of its renewal and hope, will be here. Oh, and Bill Murray figures out how to get out of the trap of being stuck in the same day over and over. When he becomes good just for the sake of goodness, he becomes free.

See a clip of Groundhog Day and other favorite films, here.

 

Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.

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