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Beating the Winter Blues

If this winter is really getting you down try some of these tips below and just remember Spring is getting closer everyday!

1. See the light.  Opening blinds, using strong artificial lighting, and taking a walk in daylight even if its cold acts as a tonic to improve mood.

2. Use a dawn stimulation alarm clock.  These clocks emit a light that gradually brightens in your bedroom for a half hour before your wake-up time.  Doctors theorize that this technique tells the brain to stop producing melatonin, which induces sleepiness and may be a major cause of winter blues.  

3. Socialize with family and friends.  Being in company of people you enjoy spending time with will help boost your mood and make you laugh.  Laughing produces hormones that improve mood.

4. Exercise. Even the most modest activity such as gardening or walking for 20-30 minutes a day will keep your body producing healthy hormones such as dopamine.

5. Attack insomnia. Depression and insomnia go hand in hand.  Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia nurtures sleep by teaching patients that being in bed is for sleeping (not watching tv, answering email, etc) also, how to keep a sleep diary, reduce caffeine and alcohol.  You can also try turning your clock away from your bed so that the first thing you don't do is look at the clock when you wake up in the middle of the night.

6. Eat a balanced diet.  Including lean protein and complex carbohydrates (fruits, beans, whole grains) and limit alcohol, sugar, and high fat foods.  These types of unhealthy foods provide a quick pick-me-up but then make you feel tired. 

7. Eat expensive chocolate.  People who have the winter blues often crave the amino acid tryptophan.  The amount of tryptophan chocolate contains is directly related to the amount of cocoa bean content, the more cocoa bean the more expensive the chocolate.

8. Take a tropical vacation.  Getting away for a few days and soaking up the sun and getting some healthy vitamin D will do wonders for mood, especially during the winter months.

Have an awesome day and pray for no snow!

Dr. Brian Wallace

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