Let the sunshine in
Feb. 25, 2013
by Jenni Sebora

“Let the sunshine in, and shake hands with your neighbor.”

These are song lyrics we should live by, especially during these long winter months. I enjoy the seasonal changes our lovely state of Minnesota offers; however, sometimes, every day can feel the same in these long winter months – cloudy and cold.

This winter season, we have had many days of very cold temperatures that have made it difficult to enjoy outdoor snow activities. I am sure, for many people, including children, winter blues have set in. These feelings are related to the decrease in light.

It is common for people to want to stay in, hibernate, and eat. These activities do not help stave off the winter blahs. In fact, they can increase those doldrum feelings.

It is important to “let the sun shine in.” With less sunlight during the winter season, we need to expose ourselves to as much light as possible.

Keep the curtains open during sunlight hours. We get vitamin D from the sun’s rays on our skin, which, of course, is decreased during winter. Get up early, take the sun in. Even if the temperatures are cold, step outside for some fresh air.

Eating foods that provide vitamin D can help fight fatigue and increase energy.

Exercising increases serotonin levels, which are decreased with winter blues. I actually enjoy going for winter walks – weather permitting. It always leaves me feeling rejuvenated. However one can get some exercise – indoors or out – can help stave off those blue feelings.

Of course, enjoying what winter has to offer certainly helps. Our kids love to be pulled on sleds with our snowmobile, even if it is for only one-half hour.

Take up skiing, snowshoeing, or snowboarding. Of course, looking forward to these activities can help us enjoy the long winter months. It is not too late to participate in these activities, as it sounds like we have more snow on the way. We might as well enjoy it.

Splurging on sugary items is easy to do during these cold days. Hunkering down with junk food and soda pop is tempting, but we should not overdo these foods.

“Shaking hands with your neighbor,” or friend, or family is important. Staying in and withdrawing from society can actually make us feel worse, experts tell us. Have some fun. Enjoy some laughs. Go out for coffee or hot cocoa.

A few days ago, I took my two daughters and their friends to a local coffee shop where we enjoyed hot cocoa, mocha, and each other’s company. Kids like to do this, too. Just getting out can really lighten one’s mood.

If it is too cold to go out, play some board games with your children. Turn up some upbeat music. Look through photo albums. Share childhood stories with your children, it is a good time to do it. Read a good book that you don’t have time for when the weather gets warm.

And, of course, experts tell us, if we are really having trouble with the winter blues, we shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help.

Remember to “let the sunshine in.”

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