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Extension Today: Beating the Winter Blues

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ABOUT THIS EPISODE

You are not alone if this time of year makes you feel a little down! Fewer daylight hours and cold temps can make many of us want to hibernate. And the temptation to snack and snuggle with our blankets doesn’t help. We’ve got some suggestions for beating the winter blues – get moving, eat some nutritious food, connect with others, and get professional help if necessary.

The winter blues are common after the holidays. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing too. Remember: a little rest and relaxation is a good thing, but too much can be not so good. Shannon Carter, Extension educator, joins Jenny Lobb for a discussion about several things you can do to beat the temptation to hide and hibernate this winter. Remember, the key to living well in 2022 is balance  get some rest, enjoy some activities, chill out, connect with friends and family, among other things.

Also, talk with a doctor or mental health professional if you want some specific, very personalized help. There is certainly no shame in getting personalized support just for you!

GET THE FACTS!
We have many free fact sheets available on Ohioline. Check out these resources for great insight on managing and preventing stress, practicing mindfulness, gaining insight into gratitude, etc. 

LEARN MORE!
The Holidays are Over: Now What? It's fairly typical this time of year to experience a post-holiday letdown. Muchless, the winter weather can present its chalenges. If you are dealing with a case of the blues, also take note of your symptoms  Do they come and go? How long do they last? Do you have mood swings? While mild winter blues affect many or most of us at times, and in this pandemic era even more so, a more serious form of the blues is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD is a form of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. It usually begins in the fall, continues through the winter, and resolves in the spring. If you suspect that you have SAD, please be proactive and seek professional help.

Getting outdoors despite the weather is a great way to help beat the winter blues, especially if we get a crisp, sunshiny cold day! Check out this article about the benefits of choosing to Opt Outside to Beat the Winter Blues for some great insight. Other articles on our OSU Extension Live Healthy Live Well blog can provide some great insight as well. One more easy-read: It's Fall Ya'all and The Struggle is Real

Decreased light does change our brain chemistry, and we produce less serotonin (a feel-good chemical in the brain) and more melatonin, (a sleep-producing chemical). We can't say it enough...be kind to yourself! These days, it's important to get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals and snacks, get moving, connect with others, schedule fun, practice self-compassion, and ask for help. Plus, learning to practice gratitude and thankfulness for even the small things in life isn't just a cliche; it can be a real lifesaver.

Mindfulness is not a new concept, but we're hearing more about it in recent times. Practicing mindfulness has short-term and long-term benefits, starting with an immediate sense of calm, but reducing anxiety, depression, stress, and even chronic pain over time. There are many resources out there. You can start with this Mindfulness Tip Sheet, by Dr. Theresa M. Ferrari, an OSU Extension 4-H youth development specialist. Plus, Patrice Powers-Barker, an Extension educator, shares a great list of books about mindfulness in her blog post On the Bookshelf MIndfulness. As you snuggle inside during the latest snowstorm, this is a great time to do some reading! And Let it Snow! Mindful Winter Activities --- check out Patrice's tips to try while the snow is flying! Learn a little more about Mindful Wellness here as well.

CONNECT WITH OUR EXPERTS!
There's always something to learn! Several of our OSU Extension family and consumer sciences professionals are presenting a four-part series from Jan. 11-Feb 1  about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and what you can do to beat the winter blues. Learn more here; you can attend virtually by Zoom or at the Fairfield County District Library in Lancaster.

Sometimes it's hard to know what's bothering you. Is it Pandemic Fatigue, Winter Blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder? Our OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team provides some additional insight.

Don't be SAD, Be Prepared with this insight from an Ohio State professional. Another handy tip: seasonal affective disorder can be treated with light therapy in some cases. A phychitrist with Ohio State provides some info in this blog post on Proper use of Light therapy for seasonal affective disorder, along with a previous post about it as well.