Punxsutawney Phil, Groundhog Day: Dealing with Winter Blues

Groundhog PunxsutawneyThe best thing about Groundhog Day, in my opinion, is the old Bill Murray movie. The rest is kind of silly. No matter what that fat, furry, feral animal sees in Punxsutawney, Pa., we still have 30 to 40 more days of winter, and this season has been brutally cold for most of us.

My friends in my hometown in the Indiana-Kentucky Ohio River region still didn't have power yesterday after the huge ice storm. I feel for them--I can't imagine taking care of my kids inside a freezing house. I mean, they complain that their rubber ducky is too cold when I don't get the bath water hot enough.

I'm pretty sick of winter. I dream of bathing suits and sunshine and the days when I don't have to wrangle three small children into winter coats, hats, snow boots and mittens. Then I have to tell them to stop eating snow that the puppy just peed on.

Maybe I need these 12 Winter Depression Busters from Beliefnet. Read on for interesting tips. Who knew that sugar could cause Winter Blues?

  1. Watch the sugar. Hot chocolate and all kinds of wintertime treats are packed with sugar. But addiction to sugar and white-flour products is real and physiological, affecting the same biochemical systems in our bodies as other drugs like heroin. Cut down to feel better.
  2. Stock up on Omega-3s. Doctors at Harvard Medical School confirm the positive effects of this natural, anti-inflammatory molecule on our emotional health. Take 500 mg per day to elevate and stabilize mood.
  3. Give back. Positive psychologists like University of Pennsylvania's Martin Seligman and Dan Baker, both Ph.D.s, believe that a sense of purpose and acts of altruism are strong antidotes to depression. All the non-profits are hurting right now due to the economy. If you have spare time, help one out.
  4. Join a gym. By working out in winter, you can get your heart rate to over 140 beats a minute. This releases those feel-good endorphins and keeps your ticker healthy. The gym is also full of people, and being social also makes us happy. Can't afford a gym? Start a workout program with a friend.
  5. Use a light lamp. Light can be as effective as an antidepressant. Find a mammoth one early in the morning, and try to get some natural sunlight outside.
  6. Wear bright colors. Maybe there's a link between feeling optimistic and wearing pink, purple, red and yellow. Sometimes I feel better in purple than I do in my winter black.
  7. Get outside. Just for a few minutes, like 10, every day. The Vitamin D in sunlight boosts your limbic system, the emotional center of the brain.
  8. Hang out with friends. Get together with buddies when your mood dips. It works.
  9. Head south. If you can, schedule your yearly vacation in February and go somewhere warm. I don't know if that's possible for me, but I can dream about this bit of Beliefnet advice.
  10. Take up a project. Declutter the house or purge your closets for quick pick-me-ups.
  11. Challenge yourself. Is there something you've been meaning to try? Creating a blog or doing that crossword puzzle? Small accomplishments add up to big mood boosts.
  12. Light a candle. Fix your gaze on a hot, glowing candle flame. Think of hope and remind yourself how pretty simple things can be.

Check out my story last week on 8 Holistic Ways to Beat Winter Blues for more tips on beating winter blues. In the meantime, what do you think about Groundhog Day? Fun or frivolous?

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