• Top 5: Beat the winter blahs

  • It’s still more than a month away from when pitchers and catchers report for spring training and more than two months before the Royals begin their season.

    The days are getting longer but there’s still less than 10 hours of daylight.

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  • It’s still more than a month away from when pitchers and catchers report for spring training and more than two months before the Royals begin their season.
    The days are getting longer but there’s still less than 10 hours of daylight.
    Your alarm goes off, it’s 13 degrees out and you have to get out of your warm bed for a long day at work.
    As Bill Murray’s character John Winger said in the movie “Stripes” – “And then depression set in.”
    If the winter blahs are setting in, here’s some ways to cope before SAD (seasonal affective disorder) gets the best of you.
    1. Eat (and sniff) a variety of foods.
    Clinical psychologists Ashley Solomon and Deborah Serani tell pyschcentral.com that you should eat a lot of protein, vegetables and fruits. Colder weather makes the body crave sugars and starches, so protein helps keep your mood balanced.
    “Protein doesn’t spike your sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied, less irritable and tired than simple carbohydrates and sugars,” Serani said.
    If that doesn’t work, Health.com says to try the cinnamon trick. Simmer a pot of apples, cinnamon sticks and water on the stove. The scent eases stress, helps headaches and increases alertness.
    Taking a vitamin D supplement might help too. The Discovery Fit & Health website also recommends St. John’s wort, milk thistle, rose, lavender and chamomile herbs.
    2. Stay active.
    “Working out is good for that!” Examiner Facebook friend Ciocca Tapioca says.
    Getting your exercise can boost your mood and energy levels. Steve Ball, a Missouri state fitness specialist and associate professor in Mizzou’s College of Human Environmental Sciences, says the best practice is to vary how you get exercise.
    “Regarding exercise and physical activity in the winter, some is better than none, more is better than some and too much is difficult to get,” Ball told missourifamilies.org. “Establish traditions to accommodate cold weather. Try new things, such as dance classes, swimming or water aerobics, or check out exercise videos from the library. Invest in home fitness equipment, such as jump ropes, DVDs, treadmills and stationary bikes.”
    And if you can stand the weather, a walk outside not only helps you stay fit, it can help you get the sunlight you need to boost your serotonin, a mood-enhancing chemical that regulates hunger and how well you feel. Experts say to try to get at least 20 minutes of sunlight or bright indoor light a day.
    Even a walk can be made into a fun activity. Examiner Facebook friend Kelly Hunt offered up this: “Bundle up and go geocaching.”
    You can even run indoors. The Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center Groundhog Run is Sunday at the Hunt Midwest SubTropolis of Missouri 210 just north of Independence and Sugar Creek. You can participate in the 5K/10K run/walk and help children with special needs in the Kansas City area. It is limited to 4,000 runners, so check at www.facebook.com/ChildrensTLCGroundhogRun to make sure it isn’t sold out before you go.
    Page 2 of 2 - 3. Laugh and listen.
    Buy tickets to a comedy club or to see your favorite music artist. Be with people you enjoy and laugh it up or sing out loud. Laughing or singing along is great for lifting your mood.
    4. Socialize.
    “Schedule regular contact with friends and family, even if it’s via Skype,” Solomon said.
    Examiner Facebook friend Susan Lorene Lundquist says a simple outing with a friend works best for her. “A cup of coffee or tea or juice with a friend or two at one of our Independence coffee shops or cafes or at my home,” she writes.
    Dailyspark.com suggests simply calling a good friend or family member for a good talk.
    5. Helping others.
    Volunteering at places like the Community Services League, the Salvation Army or a soup kitchen not only helps the less fortunate, it helps your mood.
    Jerry Jensen, president and CEO of CSL in Independence, can attest to that.
    “Volunteering your time to help someone who needs a little extra assistance is very emotionally rewarding,” Jensen said. “Helping others is really, to me, what life is all about. My experience and the experience I have seen from others who volunteer is that your life is much richer and fuller, and has purpose, especially for those who have retired and want to still have a meaningful role to play during the remainder of their lives.”
    Jensen says you can help CSL with food pantry and distribution, help get ready for a CSL special events or help man positions in operations to save CSL resources so it has more to spend on programs that serve clients. And financial assistance is always helpful and rewarding if you don’t have the time to volunteer.
    “We are always looking for retired professionals and educators who can help us in our Work Express program – a great program that helps people in need to learn essential skills (like) write a resume, search for jobs on a computer, the appropriate way to dress for an interview, interview techniques, etc. All of these are critically important and a good way to get out of the winter doldrums and feel energized by the good work of helping others have a better life. Volunteers are the lifeblood of organizations like the Community Services League.”
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