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Medicineworld.org: Keys To Fighting Winter Blues

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Keys To Fighting Winter Blues

Keys To Fighting Winter Blues
As the long, dark stretch of winter lingers on, it can be a struggle for some people to keep the blues at bay, but there are several tips that can help until spring arrives, a Purdue University expert says.

Jane Kinyon, a clinical professor in the School of Nursing, says mild depression, or the "blahs," are common in the winter due to the double impact of a lack of sunlight and the often bitter cold temperatures that discourage outdoor activities. She says that's why more discipline is needed this time of year to keep spirits afloat.

"In addition to the obvious things - eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep - it's important to make ourselves do things like have lunch with a friend or take a walk," Kinyon says. "We must schedule activities like this and make ourselves get out in the winter because we might not do them otherwise".

Putting more light into our lives also is beneficial, she says.

"Having a lot of lights on in the house may not be a substitute for sunlight, but it can raise our spirits," Kinyon says. "If your house is dark and it's dark outside, it just contributes to a low mood".

Kinyon says another tactic that is helpful is what she calls "reframing".

"It's just like in your house, where you have a picture hanging on the wall that you like but are tired of the frame," she says. "Reframing is about turning a given situation around to make it more positive".

For example, there are several things about winter that can be positively reframed, such as the beauty of the snow and the uniqueness of each snowflake, or the way the leaves fall off the trees only to be replaced months later with buds signaling new life.

"Even if winter is not your favorite season, get out there and take a look at nature this time of year," Kinyon says. "The fact is we might not appreciate the spring as much if it weren't for the winter".

And she says it's important to realize that this time of year the days are getting longer - albeit slowly.

For some people, having the occasional blues in the colder months is normal and doesn't significantly disrupt their daily lives. For those who are prone to mood disorders, however, the winter months can put them at risk for what is known as seasonal affective disorder.

Kinyon says if winter depression impairs day-to-day functioning, causing people to suffer persistent sadness, struggle to get out of bed in the morning or call in sick for work even if they are not ill, further therapy might be needed.

Therapy often includes the use of light boxes, which are stronger and more concentrated than typical household lamps and lights.

"If you get to that point, see a professional because help is readily available," she says. "Winter does not have to be a miserable time of the year".

Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998, kmedaris@purdue.edu.



Source: Purdue University




Did you know?
As the long, dark stretch of winter lingers on, it can be a struggle for some people to keep the blues at bay, but there are several tips that can help until spring arrives, a Purdue University expert says. Jane Kinyon, a clinical professor in the School of Nursing, says mild depression, or the "blahs," are common in the winter due to the double impact of a lack of sunlight and the often bitter cold temperatures that discourage outdoor activities. She says that's why more discipline is needed this time of year to keep spirits afloat.

Medicineworld.org: Keys To Fighting Winter Blues

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