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Don't let the winter blues make you blue

Not feeling yourself lately? Perhaps you’re a bit sluggish, a little irritable, sleeping longer or just feeling a bit down about everything?

Welcome to seasonal depression, or as it’s commonly known, the “winter blues” or the “winter blahs.”

It’s a much more common problem than most people realize, and yes, it can be serious.

Some people find winter weather depresses them enough that it interferes with normal life and leads to severe feelings of depression.

Such cases are known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and can be serious enough to warrant treatment by a mental health professional.

But for most of us it’s just a minor inconvenience and, fortunately, one that you can do something about.

Since the shorter days and lack of sunlight in winter plays a role in bringing on winter blues, the obvious cure is to increase the amount of light in your life.

If it’s a bright, sunny day, bundle up and get outside for a bit. If it’s gray and dreary, try turning on extra lights to brighten things up and use broad spectrum bulbs that simulate natural sunlight.

Exercise also helps fight those tired feelings of winter. Just a short daily walk or gym workout can help your body and mind overcome those feelings of no energy.

Even little things can make a difference.

When you’re feeling down, give a friend a call and talk about happy things. Watch a favorite funny TV show or movie. Read a book that you know you’ll enjoy or spend some time on a hobby that makes you feel good.

Getting involved with others is another way to feel better. From fun socializing to volunteering at your church, a local shelter or nonprofit agency, get out more.

Helping others almost always brings better feelings, and when you combine that good work with a nice bright smile, you may find you just don’t have time for feeling blue.

Of course, there are many things that can cause depression besides cold, gray skies.

If you find that you just can’t overcome those blue feelings, and if such feelings are interfering with your enjoyment of a normal life, seek help.

Counseling professionals can both help pinpoint the cause of your feelings and suggest ways to combat that depression.

Bottom line? Take action and don’t let the winter blues take the fun out of your life.

“The Counseling Corner” is provided as a public service by the American Counseling Association.

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