Simple steps to beat the winter blues

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Dealing with winter weather can be tough enough, but there are a few easy things you can do to get you out of the winter blues.

Winter blues can be aggravated by anything from driving in dangerous conditions to worrying about what to do with the kids if school gets cancelled. Repeated storms that bring these extra stresses can make them even worse.

"I think people tend to get demoralized dealing with recurring bouts of anything stressful," says Tahir Rahman, MD of the Kansas City Psychiatric Group.

Rahman suggests a few tips to help you get over the doldrums of our coldest season.

Tip #1: Bring in the light

At this time of year, we miss out on sunlight that is a natural mood enhancer. So Rahman suggests turning on more lights in your house or office to brighten the room and brighten your mood. Light therapy has proven effective to treat serious mental conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or depression. Light therapy lamps can be purchased with specific light bulbs, but they do get expensive. Just one can cost hundreds of dollars.

Tip #2: Exercise

Exercise can increase endorphins which provide a mood boost. Exercising at the start of the day also gets blood pumping to your brain and can help you be more alert.

Tip #3: Eat a good breakfast

If you are craving carbs this time of year, don't be surprised. It is common, and some theories suggest it is a natural tendency left over from when humans needed to bulk up in winter to stay warm. Eating a healthy breakfast will help you burn more calories throughout the day, fight off weight gain and be more energized.

Tip #4: Embrace winter

Rahman says it is important to find something fun to do that you can only do in this cold weather. That helps you associate the season with the fun activity. Rahman says we can take a cue from northern states where people thrive on activities like skiing and ice skating.

The frustration of dealing with winter is not to be confused with serious mental conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder or depression, which can be either directly affected by the winter season or worsened by it. If you are having trouble functioning at work or home, Rahman says it is crucial to seek professional help.

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