Winter Doldrums

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Some of you may have noticed that the frequency of my posts has diminished lately.  I was thinking about that yesterday and wondering why I wasn’t motivated to sit down and write.  Then it hit me.  I am smack dab in the middle of winter.  Half is behind me, and half is ahead of me.  Unfortunately, the better half has passed:  the holidays, the New Year, two three-day weekends, and the anticipation of the first snow.  The rest is just dreary, slushy, dirty, and monotonous waiting.  I am in the midst of the winter doldrums.

When I searched on “winter doldrums” online I got hits like these:

  • winter blues
  • light depression
  • seasonal depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder, aptly named (SAD)

Yikes!  Do you see where this is going?  Not to a good place, I can tell you.  According to dictionary.com, doldrums is defined as:

1.  a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art:

2.  the doldrums.
  • a.  a belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic andPacific oceans.
  • b.  the weather prevailing in this area.

3.  a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.

People who live in Florida are highly unlikely to be affected by SAD, according to WebMD.  Some form of winter doldrums only affects about 1% of Floridians in the winter whereas about 50% of those who live in the north of the U.S. and Canada get some kind of winter blues.  There’s a scientific reason for this:  the lack of sunlight affects our internal body clock.  It can make us feel more tired, want to eat more–especially high carb and sugary foods, feel anxious and moody, and have less interest in sex.   We gain weight and sleep too long and are downright unproductive.  Instead of  getting out we feel like staying home and living like a hermit until spring comes.

So what’s a person to do?    How do you get our mojo back when it’s February and you’re facing another 60 days of winter?  Yes, the ground hog lied.  Winter does not end in mid-March in Pennsylvania.  Who came up with that “six more weeks of winter” anyways?  March can be a horrible chilly month when everything turns to mush and mud.

There are some ways to beat the winter blues.   One is to maintain regular sleep schedules.  Instead of sleeping in, get out of bed at the normal time, every day,  Try some exercise in the morning.  Stay away from high carb meals, which tend to be sugary and comfort foods.  Instead train yourself to grab a piece of fruit or dry-roasted nuts, or even some low fat yogurt.  Perhaps most importantly, don’t hide at home all winter.  Get out and socialize.  Keep your calendar full of things to do and places to go.  Being with other people can be energizing and lift your spirits.  Lastly, try the artificial light from a sun lamp.  For most of us it’s about the long dark nights and short days.  Introducing some additional light can be helpful in alleviating symptoms of winter depression.

What am I going to do with about my bout of the winter doldrums?  We have been sleeping a lot more lately.  I need to get up at least an hour earlier.  I also need to get back to my exercise routine and get to the gym more often.  I’m usually pretty good about my diet, but I will try to eat more fruit and veggies.   I have been filling in my social schedule.

Next time I feel my mood changing and my energy level dropping  I will go into action  and beat back the winter doldrums back.  So look for more posts from me in the next weeks because I’m on the offensive now.

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