[life] how to prevent the winter blues

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My great friend Edgar is moving across the country from North Carolina to Seattle. He’s visited several times and has seen and done just about all there is to see and do, but now that he’s actually moving here, there’s a whole new level of expertise that I’m tapping into so that I can make sure that he actually likes it.

I’m most concerned that he’ll have a hard time adjusting to the grey skies and constant drizzle. He insists he’ll be fine, but I am going to insist that he invest in the following items to help make sure that he doesn’t fall victim to seasonal affective disorder.

For those of you who don’t know, SAD is a depression that many people suffer from in the winter months when the days are shorter and dark. We’re particularly susceptible to it up here in the Northwest because we go for so many days without seeing sunshine or blue skies. But in case you think that sounds horrible, just trust me when I tell you that ONE single beautiful day lifts the collective mood of the city and everyone forgets just how bad it really is.

So I’ve decided that I’m going to start Edgar on the following regimen to combat SAD. What do you do to keep the winter blues at bay?

Hit the Gym! 

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” -Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

Making time for exercise is a crucial element in combating SAD, and it’s good for your whole body, not just your mind. Investing in a gym membership (Gold’s Gym is cheap, my roommate goes to Mode of Fitness they have lots of classes, my neighbors go to Riley Athletics) and making time to actually GO is step one.

Gym, TANNING, Laundry:

When the sun doesn’t shine for months on end (slight exaggeration), sometimes you just need that jolt of UV light to remind you that such light exists. I can’t in good faith recommend tanning on a regular basis, but consider buying a good package when it comes up on LivingSocial or Groupon and visit the tanning bed every couple of weeks or so.

Take Your Vitamins:

You might as well add vitamin D to your daily dose of vitamins. I once had my blood drawn and found out that my vitamin D levels were so scary-low that I had to take super-concentrated Vitamin D pills for like a month.

Low levels of vitamin D are associated with multiple sclerosis and effects on your immune system and bone density. Check out your local drugstores weekly circulator (aka “junk mail”) because they often have good deals on vitamins, so you can stock up.

Buy a Sun Lamp:

I’ve been in the Northwest for 11 years and I think the time has come to finally invest in a light therapy lamp. The lack of exposure to light can cause sleeplessness (not a problem that I have – I can’t wake up in the winter!), fatigue, increased appetites and in general, the winter blues.

Visit the Indoor Sun Shoppe in Fremont to check out the lamps – it’s just about the brightest spot in the city – or order one online.

Keep Yourself Regularly Scheduled:

Your calendar should always have something to look forward to on it – and I recommend having regularly scheduled activities, whether it be happy hours, game nights, sporting activities or events – just things to get yourself out of the house. It’s easy to fall into a rut in the winter months and become glued to the couch and television. Make sure that you don’t let the rain stop you from having fun, and make an effort to get out there.

Plan a Vacation:

When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Out of town, that is. Lots of Seattleites plan vacation to warmer climates for a week or two in the winter and early spring, because it is always nice to be reminded that sunny skies DO exist elsewhere in the world. Popular destinations include Sayulita, Mexico, where I’ve heard that you’re practically guaranteed to run into someone you know.

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