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Exercise, diet and sunlight fight winter blues

Despite the joy of the holiday season, the end of Daylight Saving Time marked the start of the winter blues for many people.

“A more serious version of winter blues is called Seasonal Affective Disorder,” Dr. Angeline Stanislaus, chief medical director for the Missouri Department of Mental Health, told Missourinet..”It’s a type of depression that usually appears as the seasons change to winter. The shorter the day is, the more depressed they feel. They actually feel very gloomy and lack motivation to do anything. The appetite is changed, craving a lot of sugar, they may gain weight, they sleep a lot and then they also have this sense of feeling of worthlessness.”

Sunlight is a great mood booster. “Get outside. and go get sunlight,” she said. “It’s very, very critical. Usually a walk, a 30-minute walk during lunchtime or even getting out of the office or the house and sitting outside in the light, even when it is gloomy, will make a big difference.”

Participating in social activities instead of being cooped up at home helps brighten those winter blues.

“People’s bodies really struggle to wake up early,” Stanislaus said. “That really changes as well, when you change a clock back-and-forth, people might have noticed that it takes probably several weeks to get a brained rhythm to wake and to sleep with the change in the clock. That does play a role as well.”

Simply moving also helps, said Dr. Irinia Todorov, an integrative medicine physician. Before going out in the cold, people should take a few extra precautions, such as making sure their shoes are up to the challenge and that they stretch properly. An indoor gym requires only a few pieces of basic equipment.

Reducing social media use also can help, especially during the holiday season. Pysycolgist Dr. Dawn Potter recommends setting limits, because people put extra pressure on themselves when they try to measure up to someone else’s holiday experience.

Finally, such comfort foods as oatmeal with sliced bananas, chicken soup or an apple with peanut butter can help perk up the spirits.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice


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