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Beat The Blues

By Casey Niepokoj

SAD Recently we said “goodbye” to Chicago’s mild winter, hit hard by the bitter cold weather sweeping the nation. But the season affects more than how much we have to bundle up in the morning. As we enter the darkest days of winter, shorter days, coupled with cloudy, cool weather can contribute to a drop in mood for many. Whether you’re dealing with a serious illness or you just don’t feel quite right after a long day at the office, it’s important to address feelings of sadness before they escalate and begin to impact physical health.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Katherine Puckett, national director of mind-body medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (Zion, IL) and she confirmed that the “winter blues” are all too common this time of year. Sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, loss of enjoyment in things that once offered pleasure and feeling hopeless are a few symptoms that should not be ignored. The mind and body are intricately connected, and Dr. Puckett shared the following tips for boosting your mood on a daily basis in order to stay emotionally strong and centered:

  • Stay Active – Keep your mind busy and body energized and moving. Spend time doing activities you enjoy, take up a hobby, and incorporate exercise into your day when possible.
  • Embrace the outdoors – Despite the frigid temperatures, bundle up and spend time outdoors in natural light, which will raise your levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood.
  • Meditate - Meditation can have a profound effect on the body and mind, as it can help reduce stress, relieve anxiety, aid in pain management and support strong emotional health. Allow yourself to be transported to a relaxing getaway through imagery and positive thoughts.
  • Be Social – Interact with friends and family regularly to beat the blues, even on the days when you may feel withdrawn and introverted.  Positive interactions with others help boost mood and build motivation by providing enjoyment and events to look forward to.
  • Be Present in Each Moment – Cancer is a journey full of ups and downs. Stay present in each moment and allow yourself to experience those feelings…both good and bad.  By accepting the emotions involved, you can more effectively address feelings of sorrow or anxiety and move on to sunnier pastures.

Sign up for a yoga class or meet a long-time friend for a cup of coffee. Following even one of Dr. Puckett’s tips is a simple step to beating the winter blues.

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