Beat the Winter Blues

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

This month I want to talk about something besides fitness and nutrition. Something that is very real to me—Seasonal Affective Disorder (alleged in my case). Yes, I am SAD! The summer is over and I am not happy! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the fall and the holidays and even a good snowstorm, but tell that to my mind. It disagrees. It just doesn’t spark as well as it does in the summer. I have to push harder to stay motivated. That’s key for me… finding a good routine and surrounding myself with happy personalities. Working with the folks we serve is a boost for my alleged Seasonal Affective Disorder, which by the way is self-diagnosed. I am in no way making light of depression and anxiety and I am especially empathetic to those suffering with these conditions. I have had bouts of true depression and had to make some lifestyle changes to get on a better path.

There are some steps I take as a way of coping with my ups and downs as I navigate from summer to the fall. Humor helps me to not sink into that negative place where I can lose sight of all the positive things in my life. Exercise helps! It truly does. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals trigger a positive feeling. I’ve dragged myself to take a class or a walk and I have felt much better 100% of the times I let my feet override my negative self-talk. Writing a gratitude journal also helps me keep things in perspective. Oprah suggests writing down three things you are grateful for, but I write down 10. Well, I actually write 9 and leave #10 blank to show my trust and optimism that something good will happen and somehow the next day that #10 becomes my #1. Truth be told, I started this tradition two years ago when I couldn’t think of a tenth thing to be grateful for, so I left the space blank. My point is, do whatever it takes, even if it’s silly to other people.

Pets can help boost moods. My dog Laddie is always on my gratitude list. Sometimes twice if I need to fill a space. Accepting invites and socializing can keep the mind busy and give you those warm fuzzies. We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important but that can be difficult especially with low moods or depression. I find that guided meditations (free on youtube) not only help me drift off to sleep but they also are great mood boosters if you choose awake meditations that are made specifically to release worry and anxiety. Eat well. Drink water. Be careful about known depressants like alcohol or illegal drugs that may perk you up for a short time, but will ultimately leave you feeling worse.

Finally, don’t self-diagnose like I do! Seek professional help if you find that you cannot manage your sadness or think you may have true depression and not a case of the blues. Yes, we all get the blues and it is a normal part of life, but depression is something that may need clinical intervention and you are worth it. Nobody should suffer alone. So, now you know… I am a drama queen when it comes to my sadness of summer being over until next year. But, I’ll fight it and use all the tricks in my bag because every day something good happens if you allow yourself to see it.

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