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Essentia Health offers tips to help ward off the winter blues

It’s dark in the morning when you go to work, and it’s dark in the evening when you return. It’s cold, and often, snowing. The weather this time of year wreaks havoc on our roads, our homes, our cars, and even our minds.

“Winter depression is very common in the United States, with a documented three percent of people actually seeking treatment,” says psychologist Nicole Fleming. “In Minnesota, that number is upped to 11 percent.”

Many people want to go home after work, change into pajamas and curl up with a good book. But a lack of physical activity, combined with cravings for comfort foods, can actually perpetuate depression.

“We get a lot of nutrients from the foods we eat, as well as sunlight, so when it’s cold and dark we crave pastas and sugars, then we put on weight and feel more depressed,” Fleming says.

Fleming suggests people take advantage of frozen fruits and whip up healthy smoothies to beat the blahs. Switch out a work-night casserole for a healthy salad. Physicians also suggest taking a vitamin B and D supplement.

“Ideally, we’d all love to take a tropical vacation this time of year, but many of us depleted our checking accounts in January paying off holiday bills, which makes us even more depressed,” adds Fleming. She suggests shopping around for great hotel deals this time of year, when rates are low. “One night in a hotel hot tub or pool, even experiencing maid service, can really make a difference.”

If a night away is not an option, Fleming suggests having your neighbors over for dinner. “We often isolate ourselves in the wintertime, and over time, that can also lead to a deeper depression,” she adds.

Physical exercise can do wonders to lift your spirits, but when it’s 25 below zero, not a lot of us want to leave the house. Fleming says walking indoors, at the mall for example, is a good way to get your steps in. She also stresses exercise doesn’t have to always mean heading to the gym.

“Park farther away from the grocery store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Just get your body moving.” If you can hold yourself accountable by having a workout partner or friend, that helps as well. “I also tell my clients to check out free events in their community,” says Fleming. “Look into a community education class. Many are just $15 and you can learn a new hobby in one night.”

So, when do the winter blahs require professional attention? Fleming says when the blues interfere with doing the regular routine things in your life, you likely need to see a professional.

Article source: https://www.hometownfocus.us/articles/essentia-health-offers-tips-to-help-ward-off-the-winter-blues/