Are You Experiencing the Winter Blues?

Why do some people find the Winter months more difficult and gloomy than other months of the year?

Professor Cary Cooper from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology has now given a name to such feelings of gloom: acute post-bank holiday depression syndrome.

Feeling a little blue, are you?

It's not surprising, say those who keep tabs on our mental well-being. And you aren't alone. What you're experiencing is something loosely known as the Winter Blues.

"It's almost like running a marathon," says Rebecca Kiki Weingarten, a New York-based life coach, of the letdown that follows the two-month, end-of-year holiday blitz. "Boom! It's over and you're exhausted."

A NUMBER OF REASONS FOR FEELING DOWN:

Having a decent social life often falls by the wayside during the winter. When it's cold and dark outside, we tend to curl up at home rather than get out and see friends.

Recreation and outdoor activities can also fall to the wayside. We complain about the cold and are not interested in winter activities.

The bills come due. The "real story" could well be another thing that troubles a lot of us come January: the holiday spending hangover. Another reason surveyed for the Winter Blues is the dreaded arrival of the credit card statement in January.

And there are those New Year's resolutions. The mere idea of impending change can make us anxious. "Change is very difficult for most people," says psychologist Ronald Nathan. "The only people who enjoy change are babies with a full diaper."

Worse than change, though, is failure. Nathan cites a recent survey that showed that 77 percent of people who make New Year's resolutions break them within the first week. Thus, he says, we're burdened with feelings of failure and lowered self-esteem. (Actually, Nathan says, this should be a good thing. "Each time we try to change [and fail] it increases our odds to succeed because we know what not to do next time.")

One of the biggest reasons for the Winter Blues is using a great amount of negative thoughts. Taking part of negative thinking in the game of life is highly de-energizing at any month of the year. The winter months seem to attract the greatest number of negative thinkers (players). Everyone complaints about the cold weather and the long dark days.

Feeling SAD? Certain populations appear more susceptible to the Winter blues. Folks who suffer from seasonal affective disorder -- a type of winter depression caused by a dearth of daylight -- have been on the rebound since Dec. 22 when the days began getting microscopically longer, but they still face another couple of months of extended darkness.

College students, too. "A lot of students suffer a January letdown," says Dr. Robert Bashford, a psychiatrist. "They've gone home, had a great time. They haven't had to stick with the program. Then they come back to school, and they really hit the wall."

TIPS TO BEATING THE WINTER BLUES

  1. Don't give yourself a hard time.
    Don't blame yourself if you're not feeling great.
  2. Spot the signs of trouble.
    If the future seems bleak, and you have lost interest in everything, you need to take stock of your situation. Also watch out for the following signs of emotional distress: difficulties getting to sleep problems eating being anxious being angry being negative feeling more tired. Emotions are your body's signal that something is wrong. If you feel moody, don't give yourself a hard time. Take it seriously and take action.
  3. Look after yourself. If your body is fit, your mind is more able to cope. So: eat sensibly and get plenty of sleep take exercise to raise your mood take time out for yourself give yourself the occasional treat - you deserve it! take time for God to raise your spirit learn to enjoy the wonders of Winter.
  4. Keep a positive attitude. Do not become a negative thinker - player in the game of life. Yes, the winter months are more challenging in keeping a positive focus. Yet, they provide an ideal learning environment for us to advance the skill of "positive thinking". Daily practice and use the skill. Your will feel better, enjoy more energy and get a lot more pleasure from your daily activities.
  5. It's good to talk. Talking your problems through with someone else will help. Don't let your pride stop you seeking help. Find someone you trust, who will keep what you have told them confidential, then tell them all about your problems. Unexpressed emotions stop you from coping with everyday life. Once you talk about them, you will find you have more energy, you think more clearly and you are more able to cope.
  6. Ask for help. Know when you need to get help, and don't be afraid of asking: it is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  7. Winter is a great time for reflection. Look at the abundance and blessings that life brought. Realize how blessed you are to be here.
  8. Winter is also a great time for renewal. Shed the past, be it excess tonnage, bad habits, inappropriate people or even negative attitudes. Use the turning of the page that marks the new year to get a start on some of the things you have been promising yourself for years.
  9. Get together with family and friends. Make it your mission to go out at least twice every week. Come up with a list of things you want to do.

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