Winter Blues…

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Well it is nearing the end of April and here in Minnesota we just had another big snowstorm… and I mean LOTS of snow… it is incredible to be seeing this the week before May.  As I am driving into work today,  the beauty almost takes my breath away.  Everything outside is covered in thick, pristine white snow.  It is clinging onto the trees and is absolutely beautiful.  I had to stop to take a picture because it is so breathtaking…then I round the bend, barely moving a tenth of a mile (I live on the outskirts of town so we talk in miles not city blocks) and I come across an extremely large/tall tree laying across the entire road in front of me, apparently toppled over when it was uprooted from the ground – the weight of the heavy snow literally pulling this huge tree by the roots right out of the ground.

One minute I am reveling in the extreme beauty of my surroundings and the next minute I am trying to figure out how to maneuver my car so I can get around the branches and not scratch my car.  So much for my beautiful surroundings…. this is looking to be a not so fun drive due to icy roads and the freeway will be jam-packed with slow driving conditions…arghhh…is this winter ever going to end?

I have noticed lately that many of us in Minnesota are in a bit of a funk.  I see it at work… people feeling overwhelmed and less tolerant than normal.  My almost eight-nine year old mom has  been noticeably down in the dumps too.  She is not as talkative during our daily talks and her energy level is low.  As we discussed my concerns on her lack of energy this weekend,  I came to the belief that her lack of enthusiasm in life now is most likely due to not socializing much and being cooped up in her apartment day after day due to crappy weather and grey, gloomy skies which darken her windows.  There really is something about being S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) with lack of sunshine in our lives…

So what can we do about this?  We live in Minnesota, a place that is composed of four seasons (some longer than others at times).  It is part of our lives and we need to put up with the grey days in addition to the blue skies – right?  Life… sometimes it is all blue sky and cotton-candy shaped clouds… all is good… we are energized then BAM! the skies darken and we need to trudge through heavy, thick times of sadness or lethargy.  Sometimes a big old tree falls in our path and creates an obstacle for a minute or two.

So back to the question, what do we do?  In my many readings on positive psychology, there are several things we can do to create an improved outlook on life:

  1. Exercise will make us feel better mentally as well as physically. There is no need to run a marathon but just taking a short walk a few times a day can create an improved mood.  How many of you have seen a crabby person purposely walking around the mall for exercise? I haven’t.
  2. Socializing with other people allows us to have less focus on ourselves and the negative feelings we might be having because it is kind of hard to focus on someone else and focus on yourself at the same time… kind of like rubbing your head and patting your stomach at the same time – almost impossible.
  3. Eat healthy.  If you have ever lived in or visited our great State of Minnesota, you know that we love our hot dishes and a myriad of other comfort foods when it is cold and dreary outside.  Treating ourselves to comfort food is fine occasionally but indulging in it regularly makes most of us fat – pure and simple. When we scarf down all of those carbs, we put on weight… then get tired… then don’t feel like doing anything… and then we continue with the same low energy pattern over and over again…and then we eat more Tator Tot Hotdish
  4. Reading or watching movies that have a positive outcome or humor have been shown to increase feelings of happiness in research studies. So go ahead and rent Dumb and Dumber or Napoleon Dynamite in the comfort of your home and laugh out loud – who cares?
  5. Reflect on what we are grateful for and create a self-fulfilling prophecy.  As we are thankful and positive,  we will become more thankful and positive and that equates with happiness in my book!

So it snowed again last night but as I continue on my drive into work, I see blue skies peeking through the clouds.  The radio announcer is saying the weather forecast looks pretty darn good for this weekend… soon it will be t-shirt and shorts weather and before we know it we will be well on our way to losing that flab of winter insulating fat…

I need to sign off now… time for my frozen yogurt covered in chocolate syrup and whipped cream (low-fat of course)!

What is your favorite activity to move you out of the winter blues?

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