Monday, January 12, 2009

Lifting the Doldrums

School teachers know that the period between Christmas and Easter is a long-haul in the classroom. Weather is often cold, dreary, and breezy. Students get restless and teachers get tired. But, students aren't the only ones that experience the malaise that comes during these winter months. Mental health professionals report that depression and anxiety are often experienced during the time period right after Christmas. I know there are many professional solutions to this problem, and they are excellent. Sometimes common sense has solutions as well. Here's a folk-list of ways to cope with winter doldrums.

1. Experience light! Because some days the sun doesn't shine, other ways must be found to get the full-spectrum light that the body requires. Check out the light bulb section at a nearby store and look for bulbs that are advertised as "full spectrum light" bulbs. Replace the ordinary bulbs in your light fixtures with the full spectrum bulbs and enjoy a dose of sunshine in your home! They are available in both florescent and incandescent bulbs. You can also find grow lights in garden centers that offer bright "full spectrum" light. Sitting under a "full spectrum" light for 20 - 30 minutes as soon as you wake up in the morning will help start your day off right. It's a real mood lifter, as it stimulates hormones that promote happiness.

2. Eat nuts! Nuts and seeds contain Omega-3's, an essential nutrient for healthy and happy brain function. A handful of walnuts each day will help combat the winter blues. Additionally, freshly ground flax seed daily supplies a high dose of Omega-3's. A small coffee grinder does a great job of grinding them. Be aware that if not ground, these seeds may benefit the colon, but the Omega-3's will stay bound up inside the hard shell, therefore not giving you brain benefit.

3. Exercise! A daily walk does wonders for the spirit. Bundle up during your favorite time of day. Walking when during the peek of the day when the sun is shining gives double benefit, but don't discount the soothing effects of a "nighttime" walk. Walking by moonlight (in a safe neighborhood) is relaxing and a wonderful mood lifter.

4. Eat right! Resolve to eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. These are the core ingredients of a healthy lifestyle. Use the other foods to garnish and enhance, but not as the main ingredient in the foods you eat. Not only will eating this way life your mood, but it will make you feel lighter and brighter too.

5. Think of others! Getting your mind off yourself does wonders for mood enhancement. Deliberately do something nice for someone else every day. Visit a shut-in neighbor, offer to babysit for a young mother for an hour or two, or pitch in to help a friend with an overwhelming project. By being of service to someone else, you'll find that your mind is taken off yourself and your blue's.

6. Listen to music! Music is a great mood enhancer, especially certain types of music. Classical music has been shown to enhance mood because of it's rhythms, patterns, and cadences. Spend some time with Mozart, Bach, Brahms, or Beethoven each day.

7. Sip a cup of tea! Tea relaxes the muscles in the body that cause tension. And it signals to your body that it's time to kick back for a moment and enjoy being in the "now". Forget the troubles of the past and the worries of the future. Concentrate on "being" in the moment and enjoying the life you've been given. It seems there really is a reason why January was selected as National Hot Tea Month!


  1. Anonymous12:38 PM

    I think I will go get some Tea right now. I bought a blend of Christmas tea in Florida at a Tea room and it was yummy.

  2. One of my blogging buds...Abbie, I think...calls these the "dull drums." That sounds about right. LOL!

    Excellent tips and I'm about ready for another cup of tea after spending the last several hours packing my sister's things. I'll definitely be looking for a full spectrum lightbulb for the morning lap...I'll get back to you if it works.

  3. I love all of these ideas! January is a tough month in some ways. Thanks for all the good ideas.

  4. I like the tea and music idea and just deciding to let worries go!

  5. Anonymous3:14 PM

    A HUGE thank you for this post! I will definetly make extra efforts to walk through these winter days! And I will have to look into the lights.

  6. ...oh yes...especially in my area...glooooomy...I keep a Ficus indoors all year with mini white lights on...I also have intertwined some red poinsettia lights on it...helps me..I keep my Tiffany lamp on all the glow and have bought some of those candles that take batteries..they last forever..and as I type I am drinking a big cuppa tea....mmm...pomegranite and some other mixture (forgot)....I will look for the FULL spectrum bulbs and put those here and there as well....need sunshine..but have SONSHINE in my SOUL..
    Great post and loved the picture..those snowmen are just soooo soooo cute.

  7. Wonderful tips! I have to say just looking at those cute snowmen cans on the snowledge made me smile and lifted my spirits!! :0)

  8. Super tips!! I am always happy when I read something and can mentally check off as done. . done. . .done.
    We sprinkle ground flaxseed into our yogurt each morning. .or onto our hot oatmeal .. .
    Our eggs are omega 3 eggs as well.
    I have purchased the full spectrum light bulbs and woah have we needed it with non stop dim days.
    I walk each day on my treadmill and . . .well, I can't think of anything better than to spend some time each week with the wee ones. If they can't lift a mood, nothing will.
    In addition I treat myself to a cup of Mighty Leaf tea now and then, it's green leaves are so wondefully fragrant in any of the flavours.

  9. Great ideas and good reminders to take better care of our selves.

  10. Anonymous9:47 AM

    What a cute article! :)

  11. Yes, sip a cup of tea!

    We have that month here in Australia in August.

    I have an award for you!

  12. Great list... I am drinking tea, listening to music, and have just had a handful of nuts. I am set for at least tomorrow! Every day I drive by our music teacher's house on the way to school ( she comes later in the morning). She has a huge one of those full spectrum lights in her window. There she is sitting sipping green tea, taking in her light, and reading the paper!!

  13. Those smiling little snowmen in your picture sure help to brighten up ones day!

  14. Certainly good advice here. I have a sunrise alarm clock which can be set for anything up to an hour before the buzzer alarm goes off emitting VERY bright full spectrum light into the room.

  15. I think I'll go put a pot of tea together right now. Great list. Beautiful flower above.

  16. I'm wondering if I can find a stencil similar to those snowmen...those are just adorable.


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