These winter blues Part 1

January 9, 2021

Welcome to 2021! Aren't you all so glad to be done with 2020? But alas, as Marshall keeps saying, 2021 may not be too different than 2020. . . .

I actually heard someone say they had received the free 7 day trial of 2021 and decided it wasn't for them. Also heard was 2021 is just 2020 with a costume change. The jokes go on and on but the reality for us is that we are here. In this space. And we have to find a way forward, through all of this. The craziness, uncertainty and questions.

Winter is always a hard season for a lot of people. I remember when I worked in the hospital and out patient center I would walk into work in the dark and walk out in the dark. And we didn't have windows in the clinic so we never saw if it was raining, snowing, sunny or foggy. Who knew?

It's hard to live days and weeks like that! And even if you have windows there are days and days when the sun doesn't seem to shine or the clouds just keep you down. It's easy to be down during this season. Even depressed. It's incredibly common! Probably more common than you even realize. And it is real! So much so that we have a diagnosis for it - Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The latest numbers show at least 5% of Americans are diagnosed with SAD and up to 10 million more people suffer with it but either don't seek treatment for it or are undiagnosed. I know in my career in healthcare I saw many, many patients who had Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's not just mental or emotional - it can be physical as well. It's real and it's hard and since life is hard anyway, I'd like to give you some tips on how to deal with the hard winter days, whether you are diagnosed with SAD or just have some winter blues you'd like to kick to the curb. So if you wanna feel better, have more energy and just live a life with more fun, read on. I'm going to share with you some tips I've learned to help me and those around me. (Let me be very clear here - I am not saying this blog should take the place of your medical doctor! If you are in need of medical intervention DO NOT LET THIS BLOG TAKE THE PLACE OF THAT MEDICAL INTERVENTION!)

  1. Get outside! Yeah, I know, it's winter and it's cold. But I promise you that 30 minutes outside, bundled up, walking in the snow, sunshine or even clouds will provide buoyancy to your spirit and submerged energy levels. For some reason we have an old textbook from Barry's grandmother (his family never throws anything away) and it says (from the 1920s) that you should spend 30 minutes outside everyday, regardless of the weather. So 100 years ago it was the same advice as today - GET OUTSIDE.
  2. Exercise. There have been countless studies done on the effects of weight training and results have shown overwhelming evidence of increased moods with regular weight lifting. I'm not talking Arnold Schwarzenegger here, I'm suggesting working out 2-3 times per week with light weights for 15-20 minutes each session. There are tons of work out videos and ideas on pinterest and you tube if you need help during these times when everyone is staying home and being safe. Start easy and light. And if you don't want to lift weights, try some yoga or aerobics. I do a variety of exercises and aim for 6-7 days of activity each week, from walking to running to weight lifting to aerobics (Pop Sugar has great videos on youtube) to yoga (again, videos on youtube are easy, free and accessible).
  3. Read! Y'all know I love a good book and I have multiple recommendations (see the other blogs written about my favorite books from the last half of 2020 or my 12 favorite books in the last 12 months, which I wrote last summer). Find a genre you like to read and get to it! You don't have to spend a ton on books - there are some great apps to help you get started. The app I love is the libby app. It's an app that links up with your library card that allows you to check out up to 15 books every 2 weeks. Libby has great books, too, not just old books that no one wants to read. My book club book for January is on libby. And I read 2 fiction choices and 1 nonfiction biography over the Christmas break on libby. So it's free and easy! (As long as you have a library card and please tell me you're using and supporting your local library!!!)
  4. Get a hobby. I recently got a subscription for Marshall to Sketchbox since we aren't having our co-op classes for the spring semester. And you know what? I started doing art projects with him! (I'm not good but I am trying!) And if y'all follow us on instagram you know I love baking bread. My pants don't love me baking bread but my heart, tummy and family love me baking bread. My mom is an avid puzzle-completer (notice I said "completer" as opposed to a "worker" or "non-finisher" like me). And I don't know if y'all are aware but my husband likes to hunt a bit.
  5. Treat yo'self. DO IT. Find something you want and treat yourself. That beautiful sweater? The piece of art you've been admiring? Those Frye boots? That bottle of wine you want to try? Champagne (you know Marilyn Monroe drank a glass of champagne every day)? Do it. Do something that makes you happy.
  6. Make sure you're getting enough sleep. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time everyday. It's not the fun thing to do but probably the adult thing to do.

So those are some of my top recommendations that I would give myself, my loved ones and my patients. If you try these tips I think you'll see a change in your mindset and your overall outlook. And probably your health as well.

Let me know what you think and what you're trying! I'm on facebook and instagram and if you have any further questions you know you can call/text/email me anytime!

Happy 2021 people. Let's crush this year!


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