8 Holistic Ways to Beat Winter Blues

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8 holistic cures for the winter bluesThe holidays were so fun that I almost forgot it was freezing outside. Earlier this week, I was too excited about events in Washington to worry about the ice in my driveway.

But now it's real. The temperature is 22 F, and the ice is like slippery cement under my parking spot.

It feels like the dead of winter has arrived, plopped down in a La-Z-Boy chair, and stuck its tongue out at me.

Meanwhile, I am trying to mentally prepare myself for six more weeks--at least--of cold, cold and more cold. Maybe I have a mild case of the Winter Blues. Do you ever feel that way?

If so, read on for 8 holistic tips for beating Old Man Winter.

People who have the blues this time of year could suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, half a million Americans have a full-blown case of the condition. I think I'm more like the other 10 to 20 percent who experience a mild form. Interestingly, SAD is more common among women, and it's more likely to strike the northern states where winters are longer. Here are the symptoms:

  • Change in appetite, especially cravings for sweets and starches
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Tendency to oversleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability/anxiety
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Increased sensitivity to social rejection

Below, find 8 winter mood lifters from Martha Howard, MD, medical director of Wellness Associates of Chicago. She gave these tips recently to Health.com:

Get a Lights of American desk lamp. Put it right next to your computer and use it at least one hour a day, especially in the early evening.

Exercise at least four to six times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. This can be a slow walk on the treadmill, or whatever you can squeeze in. Do something physical--anything will do.

Try acupuncture and Chinese herbs. These work well for some people if you can afford to see an alternative practitioner.

Try SAM-e (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine). This is a naturally occurring bodily compound that helps produce and regulate hormones, including the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Take 400 to 800 milligrams daily. Recommended brands are GNC, Natrol, NutraLife. St. Johns' wort doesn't seem to be effective for SAD, according to Howard.

Take a fish oil supplement. Try 600 milligrams of combined EPA/DHA daily.

Take vitamin C. The recommended dose is 500 milligrams three to four times a day with plenty of water and a B-complex vitamin.

Ask your doctor. If it doesn't go away, ask your physician. You may need antidepressant medication from November to April. Low doses of Zoloft or Levoxyl are good choices.

Be proactive next fall. Between October 1 and 15 next year, go somewhere with lots of sun and spend time outside four hours a day, four days in a row to help prevent SAD next winter. This really works, Dr. Howard insists.

Whenever I'm feeling down, it helps to just talk to my DH, my mom or a friend. There are many CafeMoms out there with lots of experience with this. Check out the group Moms with Anxiety & Depression and the private group Moms with Depression.

Is it just me, or do you also need a pick-me-up at the end of this week? Do you like the winter? Or is it kind of depressing?

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