Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


On Groundhog Day: 12 Winter Depression Busters

posted by Beyond Blue

snowy door.jpeg

I don’t really care if that bloody woodchuck emerges from its hole to see its shadow or not today. History tells this depressive that we still have a good 30 to 40 days to endure really crappy weather, during which we should employ every sanity exercise available. Let’s call a spade a spade: winter sucks for some of us. So, little marmot, I don’t care what you do. I don’t care if you get yourself a nice rat for dinner, I’m sticking to these techniques regardless!

Click here to get to my 12 Winter Depression Busters

Here are a few of them …

1. Watch the sugar.

I think our body gets the cue just before Thanksgiving that it will be hibernating for a few months, so it needs to ingest everything edible in sight. And I’m convinced the snow somehow communicates to the human brain the need to consume every kind of chocolate available in the house. We are mammals, yes, so do we think we need an extra layer of fat in the winter to keep us warm? I’m starting to think so.

Depressives and addicts need to be especially careful with sweets because the addiction to sugar and white-flour products is very real and physiological, affecting the same biochemical systems in your body as other drugs like heroin. According to Kathleen DesMaisons, author of “Potatoes Not Prozac”: Your relationship to sweet things is operating on a cellular level. It is more powerful than you have realized….What you eat can have a huge effect on how you feel.”

2. Stock up on Omega-3′s.

During the winter I’m religious about stocking in my medicine cabinet a Noah’s Ark supply of Omega-3 capsules because leading physicians at Harvard Medical School confirmed the positive effects of this natural, anti-inflammatory molecule on emotional health. I treat my brain like royalty–hoping that it will be kind to me in return–so I fork over about $30 a month for the Mac Daddy of the Omega-3s, capsules that contain 70 percent EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). One 500mg softgel capsule meets the doctor-formulated 7:1 EPA to DHA ratio, needed to elevate and stabilize mood.

3. Give back.

Ghandi once wrote that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Positive psychologists like University of Pennsylvania’s Martin Seligman and Dan Baker, Ph.D., director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, believe that a sense of purpose–committing oneself to a noble mission–and acts of altruism are strong antidotes to depression.

The winter months are a good time to do this because the need is greater, the holiday spirit ideally lasts until February, and you don’t have the excuse of attending family picnics, unless you live in California or Florida.

4. Join the gym.

Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse not to sweat. We have centers today called “gyms” where people exercise inside! Granted, it’s not the same–watching the news or listening to the soundtrack from “Rocky” as you run in place as opposed to jogging along wooded paths with a view of the bay. But you accomplish the goal: a heart rate over 140 beats a minute.

The gym is also a kind of support group for me. These women, I’m guessing, are going after the endorphin buzz just like me because alcohol and recreational drugs don’t do the trick anymore. And, like moi, I suspect that they also have great difficulty meditating. Every time they close their eyes, they have visions of screaming kids, Chuck E. Cheese hell, and the crisis of no thank-you gifts for teachers.

5. Use a light lamp.

Bright-light therapy–involving sitting in front of a fluorescent light box that delivers an intensity of 10,000 lux–can be as effect as antidepressant medication for mild and moderate depression and can yield substantial relief for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I usually turn on my mammoth HappyLite in November, just after my least favorite day of the year: when Daylight Saving Time ends and we “fall back” an hour, which means that I have about an hour of sunlight to enjoy after I pick up the kids from school.

6. Wear bright colors.

I have no research supporting this theory, but I’m quite convinced there is a link between feeling optimistic and sporting bright colors. It’s in line with “faking it ’til you make it,” desperate attempts to trick your brain into thinking that it’s sunny and beautiful outside–time to celebrate Spring!–even though it’s a blizzard with sleet causing some major traffic jams.

Personally, I tend to wear black everyday in the winter. It’s supposed to make you look thinner. But the result is that I appear as if and feel like I’m going to a funeral every afternoon between the months of November and March. This isn’t good. Not for a person hardwired to stress and worry and get depressed when it’s cold. So I make a conscious effort to wear bright green, purple, blue, and pink, and sometimes–if I’m in a rush–all of them together!

7. Force yourself outside.

I realize that the last thing you want to do when it’s 20 degrees outside and the roads are slushy is to head outside for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. It’s much more fun to cuddle up with a good novel or make chocolate chip cookies and enjoy them with a hot cup of Jo.

On many winter days–especially in late January and early February when my brain is done with the darkness–I have to literally force myself outside, however brief. Because even on cloudy and overcast days, your mood can benefit from exposure to sunlight. Midday light, especially, provides Vitamin D to help boost your limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. And there is something so healing about connecting with nature, even if it’s covered in snow.

8. Hang out with friends.

This seems like an obvious depression buster. Of course you get together with your buddies when your mood starts to go south. But that’s exactly when many of us tend to isolate. I believe that it takes a village to keep a person sane and happy. That’s why we need so many support groups today. People need to be validated and encouraged and inspired by persons on the same journey.

And with all the technology today, folks don’t even have to throw on their slippers to get to a support group. Online communities provide a village of friendship right at your computer. Every day I read comments like this one from Beyond Blue member Margaret: “Membership in this club to which we all unwillingly belong isn’t something I would wish on anyone; nonetheless, reading how others have survived specific circumstances has given me hope where I’d lost sight of it and inspired me to keep on keepin’ on even when my feet feel as if they’re encased in buckets of cement and will pull me under the stagnant water in the bottom of the pit.”

9. Head south.

Granted, this solution isn’t free, especially if you live in Maine. But you need not travel like the Kennedys to transplant your body and mind to a sunny spot for a few days. I try to schedule our yearly vacation the last week of January or the first week of February so that it breaks up the winter and so that I have something to look forward to in those depressing weeks following the holidays.

10. Take up a project.

There’s no time like winter to start a home project, like de-cluttering the house or purging all the old clothes in your kids’ closets. When a friend of mine was going through a tough time, she painted her entire house–every room downstairs with two different colors. And it looked professional! Not only did it help distract her from her problems, but it provided her with a sense of accomplishment that she desperately needed those months, something to feel good about as she saw other things crumble around her. Projects like organizing bookshelves, shredding old tax returns, and cleaning out the garage are perfect activities for the dreary months of the year. And hey, most of them are free!

11. Challenge yourself.

My mood can often be lifted by meeting a new challenge–an activity that is formidable enough to keep my attention, but easy enough to do when my brain is muddied. Learning how to record and edit video blogs, for this girl who hates technology, turned out to be great fun. Friends of mine get the same boost by joining Jenny Craig and losing the 25 pounds of baby fat, or exploring a new hobby–like scrapbooking. I try to stretch myself in a small way every winter–whether it be taking a writing class, researching the genetics of mood disorders, or trying to build myself a website. It keeps my brain from freezing, like the rest of my body.

12. Light a candle.

If I counted up all the minutes I’ve spent staring into a flame, I wonder how many years of my life that would be. Certainly more than the hours I’ve spent brushing my teeth or combing my hair. It would probably even surpass the combination of bath and shower time.

For some reason I assume God hears me better if I stick my face in a hot glowing body of flame. The scarlet blaze generates a feeling of hope, of fierce tenacity, that whispers: “you’re not off the hook yet…hang in there.”

Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.



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Comments read comments(14)
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Marilyn

posted February 2, 2009 at 3:01 pm


Theresei think we can take the groundhog if we try.That would be a nice way to vent lol…..



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Your Name

posted February 3, 2009 at 1:05 pm


T.
Just a technical point. From what I have been able to find, groundhogs, marrmots, woodchucks, etc.; are all in the same family as squirrels. As such, they are herbivores and so the rat might come to dinner with the groundhog, but the rat won’t be dinner.



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JOHN

posted February 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm


THERESE, I FOUND YOU HERE ABOUT 25 DAYS THE DAY I BECAME A RECOVERING ADDICT, A DAY I CHANGED MY LIFE.
I BELIVE IT WAS “MY GROUNDHOG DAY” A DAY I DECEIED TO GIVE RATHER THEN TAKE.
FOR 35 YEARS I HAVE TAKEN, DRUGS, TAKEN LIFE FROM OTHERS AND TAKEN FROM ME, ALOT, THREE MARRAIGES, BUT WORST OF ALL I HAVE LOST A LOVE OF LIFETIME, , MY WIFE LEFT DEC 12TH AFTER SIX YEARTS OF BEING MY SOUL MATE.
IN THAT SIX YEARS I WAS APART FORM HER ONLY 10 DAYS FOR THE LONGEST, BECAUSE OF MY DRUG USE, AND HERS, I HAVE NOT SEEN OR TALKED TO HER SINCE, WELL I SAW HER ONCE IN COURT, SHE WONT EVEN LOOK AT ME, GOD MY HEART DIED.
I WOKE UP SO TO SAY JANUARY 11TH, MY GROUNDHOG DAY, I READ BLUE FOR THE FIRST TIME, YOU HAVE SAVED ME, YES IT IS ME DOING THE FOOTWORK, BUT YOU GIVE ME HOPE, I READ WHAT YOU THINK, AND SAY THATS, ME IN A NUT SHELL, THATS ME IN MIND.
WHEN EVER I AM ALONE I READ BELIEFNET ALL DAY LONG, EVER TIME I THINK I AM GOING TO USE I READ, YOU HAVE SAVED ME, YOU GIVE ME HOPE, YOU GIVE THE STRENGHT TO GO ON, MOVE FORWARD.
NOW I AM HELPING OTHERS, REALLY HELPING, AND HAVE REAL FRIENDS, NOT JUST PEOPLE SUCKING ME DRY , OR ME TAKING, I HAVE TOLD EVERYONE I KNOW, OR AM TRYING TO, HOW AND WHAT I DID TO THEM, YOU HAVE HELPED ME MORE THEN YOU WIL EVER KNOW, ,,,,,,,,YOU SAVED ME, DAILY, IT BRINGS HOPE SOMNEDAY GOD WILL BRING ME MY LOVE OF A LIFETIME BACK…..THANK YOU, KEEP WRITTING, I READ EVERY WORD YOU SAY!!!!!!!!



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Elizabeth

posted February 3, 2010 at 7:38 am


Interested in any studies/journals that you may have read or remember that talk about the benefits of exercise over depression/mood. I would like to be able to offer/educate others with this information.
I believe in medications which are published all the time but I am a talk therapist and would love to encourage healthy living with facts.
Love your work! Appreciate your life! Glad you are here!



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Jill

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:07 am


I pay no attention to Groundhog Day, we all just have to slog through winter until March or so anyways.



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Joan Marie

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:01 am


Just stumbled on this AWESOME article about Lincoln and his depression!
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200510/lincolns-clinical-depression



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Anonymous

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:46 am


My life is like the movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray, everyday is the same over and over. I’m a left leg amputee on 12 different medications (for my heart, diabete’s and back and leg pain. Everyday just runs into another and it seems like I’m stuck on the same day over & over & over every single day any suggestions?



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Gina

posted February 4, 2010 at 11:47 am


Joan Marie
Thank you for the link to the article on Lincoln. Facinating!



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James Graham

posted February 3, 2011 at 5:48 am


: Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution
1. O The Time Has Indeed Come!
Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.
This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on.
An idea whose time has come!
For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest was to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform … in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn’t seem logical. We do not have elite that is above the law.
I truly don’t care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.
The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.
Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.
I’m asking each addressee to forward this Email to a minimum of twenty people on their Address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.
In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.
1. Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
American Conservative says:
December 7, 2010 at 11:09 am
An Amendment to the Constitution may be the only way; but how it is worded means everything. I suggest that it be stated like this:
The Executive, Judicial, Legislative Branches of the Federal Government – employee(s), appointee(s), bureaucrat(s), volunteer(s) and all elected person(s) of the Republic are subject to, without exception or exclusion, all Laws and Executive Orders (Executive Orders are not enforceable as Law without Legislative passage by Majority vote of each elected Party of both Houses of the Congress) that are passed upon the citizen, and non-citizen alike. All person(s) that have sworn/affirmed an oath to Defend the Constitution of the Republic of the United States are subject to said Laws. No person(s) subject to the Constitution of the Republic will be exempt from the affect/effect of this Amendment. Failure of the United States Justice Department to enforce Federal Law(s) upon the Executive, Judicial, Legislative Branches of the Federal Government will be guilty of Treason against the Constitution of the Republic. United States Law is the only Law authorized to be used to decide or determine the ruling of any case affecting/effecting the Republic of the United States or its Citizens and it is Treason against the Republic for any Court to use/consider any other Law to make its ruling. The United States is a Republic and English is the Official Language of the peoples of the Republic. All Legal Documents are to be in the Official Language and no other without exception. This Amendment affects/effects Past, Present, Future of the Republic.
You are one of my 20+.
Keep it going, HTCM USN RETIRED, J. A. Graham.



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James Graham

posted February 3, 2011 at 5:52 am


THE CHURCH’S PASTOR SLOWLY STOOD UP,
WALKED OVER TO THE PULPIT AND,
BEFORE HE GAVE HIS SERMON FOR THE EVENING,
HE BRIEFLY INTRODUCED A GUEST MINISTER
WHO WAS IN THE SERVICE THAT EVENING.
IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE PASTOR TOLD THE
CONGREGATION THAT THE GUEST MINISTER WAS
ONE OF HIS DEAREST CHILDHOOD FRIENDS AND
THAT HE WANTED HIM TO HAVE A FEW MOMENTS
TO GREET THE CHURCH AND SHARE WHATEVER
HE FELT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE FOR THE SERVICE….
WITH THAT, AN ELDERLY MAN STEPPED UP TO THE
PULPIT AND BEGAN TO SPEAK.
‘A FATHER, HIS SON, AND A FRIEND OF HIS SON WERE
SAILING OFF THE PACIFIC COAST ,’ HE BEGAN.
‘WHEN A FAST APPROACHING STORM BLOCKED ANY
ATTEMPT TO GET BACK TO THE SHORE.
THE WAVES WERE SO HIGH, THAT EVEN THOUGH THE
FATHER WAS AN EXPERIENCED SAILOR, HE COULD NOT
KEEP THE BOAT UPRIGHT AND THE THREE WERE SWEPT
INTO THE OCEAN AS THE BOAT CAPSIZED.’
THE OLD MAN HESITATED FOR A MOMENT,
MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH TWO TEENAGERS WHO WERE,
FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE SERVICE BEGAN,
LOOKING SOMEWHAT INTERESTED IN HIS STORY..
THE AGED MINISTER CONTINUED WITH HIS STORY,
‘GRABBING A RESCUE LINE, THE FATHER HAD TO MAKE THE
MOST EXCRUCIATING DECISION OF HIS LIFE: TO WHICH BOY
WOULD HE THROW THE OTHER END OF THE LIFE LINE.
HE ONLY HAD SECONDS TO MAKE THE DECISION.
THE FATHER KNEW THAT HIS SON WAS A CHRISTIAN AND
HE, ALSO, KNEW THAT HIS SON’S FRIEND WAS NOT..
THE AGONY OF HIS DECISION COULD NOT BE MATCHED BY
THE TORRENT OF WAVES.
AS THE FATHER YELLED OUT, ‘I LOVE YOU, SON!’
HE THREW OUT THE LIFE LINE TO HIS SON’S FRIEND.
BY THE TIME THE FATHER HAD PULLED THE FRIEND BACK
TO THE CAPSIZED BOAT, HIS SON HAD DISAPPEARED BENEATH
THE RAGING SWELLS INTO THE BLACK OF NIGHT.
HIS BODY WAS NEVER RECOVERED.
BY THIS TIME, THE TWO TEENAGERS WERE SITTING UP
STRAIGHT IN THE PEW, ANXIOUSLY WAITING FOR THE NEXT
WORDS TO COME OUT OF THE OLD MINISTER’S MOUTH.
‘THE FATHER,’ HE CONTINUED, ‘KNEW HIS SON WOULD
STEP INTO ETERNITY WITH JESUS AND HE COULD NOT
BEAR THE THOUGHT OF HIS SON’S FRIEND STEPPING INTO
AN ETERNITY WITHOUT JESUS.. THEREFORE, HE SACRIFICED
HIS SON TO SAVE THE SON’S FRIEND. ‘
HOW GREAT IS THE LOVE OF GOD THAT HE SHOULD DO THE
SAME FOR US. OUR HEAVENLY FATHER SACRIFICED HIS ONLY
BEGOTTEN SON THAT WE COULD BE SAVED. I URGE YOU TO
ACCEPT HIS OFFER TO RESCUE YOU AND TAKE A HOLD OF THE
LIFE LINE HE IS THROWING OUT TO YOU IN THIS SERVICE.’
WITH THAT, THE OLD MAN TURNED AND SAT BACK DOWN IN
HIS CHAIR AS SILENCE FILLED THE ROOM.
THE PASTOR AGAIN WALKED SLOWLY TO THE PULPIT AND
DELIVERED A BRIEF SERMON WITH AN INVITATION AT THE
END. HOWEVER, NO ONE RESPONDED TO THE APPEAL.
WITHIN MINUTES AFTER THE SERVICE ENDED, THE TWO
TEENAGERS WERE AT THE OLD MAN’S SIDE.
‘THAT WAS A NICE STORY,’ POLITELY STATED ONE OF
THEM,’BUT I DON’T THINK IT WAS VERY REALISTIC FOR A
FATHER TO GIVE UP HIS ONLY SON’S LIFE IN HOPES THAT
THE OTHER BOY WOULD BECOME A CHRISTIAN.’
‘WELL, YOU’VE GOT A POINT THERE,’ THE OLD MAN REPLIED,
GLANCING DOWN AT HIS WORN BIBLE. A BIG SMILE BROADENED
HIS NARROW FACE. HE ONCE AGAIN LOOKED UP AT THE BOYS
AND SAID, ‘IT SURE ISN’T VERY REALISTIC, IS IT? BUT,
I’M STANDING HERE TODAY TO TELL YOU THAT STORY GIVES
ME A GLIMPSE OF WHAT IT MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE FOR GOD
TO GIVE UP HIS SON FOR ME.
YOU SEE…
I WAS THAT FATHER AND YOUR PASTOR IS MY SON’S FRIEND.’
Take 60 seconds & give this a shot.
Let’s see if Satan can stop this one!
All you do is simply:
1) Say this small prayer for the person who sent you this,
Father, God bless this E-mail sender in whatever it is
you know he or she may be needing this day!
Amen
2) Then send it on. Within
hours, you will have been prayed for, and you caused
multitudes of people to pray to God for other people.
Then sit back and watch the power of God work in your
life for doing the thing that you know he loves.
I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there
isn’t and die to find out there is.



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Marylou Caufield

posted February 3, 2011 at 10:27 am


This is a wondeful truth that could help any one in doubt.



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SuzanneWA

posted February 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm


WOW!! Mr. Graham seems to have superceded the importance of Therese’s Depression Busters…try to imagine finding out at the end of October that you have COPD from smoking for 44 years and you have to wear Oxygen every afternoon and night (while sleeping), for the rest of your life??!! I was hospitalized on Halloween for pneumonia, and stayed for 10 days…I had a MRSA with a white blood count of 20,000, and no antibiotic was working. Tonight, I have such an URGE to SMOKE!!! I called one of my Support Unit’s to keep me sane and NOT do it…couple this with falling asleep on my hand-and-elbow and getting “Saturday Night Palsy!” That just means my left wrist was paralyzed since the first of November until now (and it’s only 93%). Needless to say, I needed Therese’s Depression Busters, and I ask you all to pray for me!!!



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Association Management

posted February 4, 2011 at 9:59 pm


The thing is that if I counted all the minutes are staring at the flames, and I wonder just how many years that my life will be. Surely more than an hour in cleaning your teeth or comb my hair only.
Property Management



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