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5 Ways to Beat Winter Blues: Part 2

2) Exercise. You may have a million excuses for why you can’t exercise, but what you might not realize is that many of those excuses only exist because you don’t exercise. If you are too tired, too achy, or simply not in the mood to exercise, do it anyway! Studies have shown that 30 minutes of intense exercise can be as effective in treating depression as medication. Exercise causes the brain to release endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which work together to improve our mood. In our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, even 20 to 30 minutes daily of light to moderate activity can make a difference in one’s overall health.

If you don’t have time to go to the gym and are not a fan of running around the park in the cold, try making a workout of your household activities when you get home from work. Listen to music and dance like nobody’s business while you clean a room and do laundry, find excuses to go up and down the stairs repeatedly. Jump rope in your basement, or purchase one of the many effective workout programs that can be done from the comfort of your home. Make the decision to be active enough to break a sweat for a good half hour several times a week, and you’ll begin to notice a marked difference in your energy levels and overall mood, regardless of what the weather is doing!

3) Try to rise and set with the sun. Whenever possible, you should try to model your sleeping patterns more closely to the rise and set of the sun. Winter, along with the modern marvel of electricity, generally causes us to spend more waking hours in darkness, long after the sun has set. This is a deviance from our natural circadian rhythm, in which we wake up with the sunrise and retire for the night shortly after the sun sets. When it is dark outside, the pineal gland produces melatonin, which can cause us to feel drowsy in the evening and when many of us are waking up for work. Though this disruption in our natural sleep pattern is nearly unavoidable in the modern world, it is thought to be a likely cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition which causes drowsiness, irritability, increased appetite and cravings for carbohydrates, and even depression during the fall and winter months. So try to hit the hay a bit earlier and wake up with the sun!

Photo taken by Tulane Public Relations

Sources:

http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongfitness/a/exercise_mood.htm

http://depression.about.com/cs/sad/a/sad.htm

Lindsey Duffy

A Fall 2010 graduate of the University of Louisville with a BA in English, Lindsey is a passionate writer as well as a health and nutrition guru. She plans to earn her master's degree in Creative Writing.

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