Five Easy Ways to Banish the Winter Blues
What is it about certain seasons – winter, to be more specific – that makes us feel more “down in the dumps” than others?
Is it something beyond the mere fact that daylight doesn’t radiate as long…or that we, as human beings, associate cold with sadness, harshness and abandonment?
Whatever the reason, there is a prevalence of depression in the winter, and studies have suggested a connection between Alzheimer’s patients and a vulnerability to seasonal depression. Further, research has exposed a sub-genre of this condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which requires people suffering from it to add “light boxes” in order to approach the problem. While this an extreme example and variation of the subject, there is indeed scientific evidence to shed light on Alzheimer’s and the “winter blues.”
Whether it’s loneliness over the holidays, Seasonal Affective Disorder as a consequence of less sunlight or something else, all hope is not lost: Here are five simple ways that can go a long way toward helping you feel your best, any time of year.
1. Quality Time with Friends
Research indicates that those people who boast a large support network of friends outlived others by approximately 22-percent – in the context of this conversation, that is monumental. Communities can help people deal with the burden of stress, allow for feelings or support and belonging and can boost self-esteem…even in the life of an Alzheimer’s patient. The next time you or a loved one is feeling blue, call up a friend for coffee or join a hiking club in your city; the possibilities are endless, and connecting with other people can do wonders for the emotions.
2. Dietary Adjustments
Depression is a cruel condition. It starts out as an unassuming, unobtrusive “emotional tug” and evolves – when left untreated – into a life-altering and sometimes even life-threatening disease. Aside from omega 3 fatty acid-rich foods, some examples of foods that can have a beneficial effect on mood include turkey, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, organic potatoes, corn, rice grain and St. John’s Wort, an herb that is said to somewhat effectively ease milder forms of depression. This herb is widely prescribed in Europe for depression, though there is more evidence to the effect that the “power” of St. John’s Wort in treating serious cases is more akin to a placebo effect.
Of course, proper medical care for a case of depression cannot be substituted by a “depression diet” or from food or dietary supplements; psychotherapy and medication is still the most effective means of treating the condition.
- Using the Internet to Stay Connected
It’s been estimated that as many as 10 million older Americans suffer from depression, often brought on by feelings of isolation. New research has found that Internet use among the elderly, especially with those in more rural or isolated areas (use satellite internet where cable is unavailable), can reduce the chances of depression by more than 30-percent. It all has to do with an older demographic – some with Alzheimer’s – being able to communicate and stay in contact with their social networks.
- Regular Exercise
With regular physical activity, a good amount of endorphins are released, which have been proven to help increase energy levels and improve mood. This doesn’t necessarily mean running marathons, either – reaping the emotional benefits of exercise can encompass a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a dance session in your living room or some yard work.
- Incorporating a UV Lamp
This ties into the Seasonal Affective Disorder we mentioned in the beginning. Some light therapy lamps are designed for skin disorders, not SAD or depression, so it’s important to make sure the light box you obtain is made specifically to treat SAD. Further, there’s the UV factor to consider: Light boxes for SAD should be designed to filter out most UV light, with such light radiated by tanning beds found to be ineffective for treating SAD.
Beating the winter blues is not impossible, and a few mood-lifting exercises can go a long way towards regaining a healthy mental outlook. Your brain and your body will thank you!
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