EDITORIAL: Beating the winter blues

Cabin fever, anyone? The most recent weeks of winter have been some of the longest for many of us. Snow days, shoveling, extreme cold and being stuck in the house can take a serious toll on our moods, our waistlines and our health.

When there has been a respite from the snowstorms, many of us come home from school or work and find ourselves still trapped in the house, due to the below freezing — or even sub-zero, at times — temperatures.

However, there are ways to beat the blues, and it isn’t watching a marathon of your favorite television show. According to a recent article in Time magazine, the worst ways to deal with being stuck indoors is to binge on junk food and watch marathons on television.

Time’s expert, a clinical psychologist, said some of the symptoms of cabin fever are: Feeling cooped up, having difficulty concentrating on what’s in front of you, feeling lethargic or unmotivated, and feeling irritated for no apparent reason.

Cabin fever vs. depression

Cabin fever is not the same as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The disorder affects only about 4% to 6% of the population. For some people, the reduction of light affects how their body chemistry functions.

However, if you’ve been depressed in the winter months and feel better when spring comes around for two years in a row, it is a good idea to talk to your physician about SAD.

Sunlight is a positive

For others of us experiencing cabin fever, it’s a good idea to try to get some sun, even if that means reading a book by the window. Letting light into the house is important and special light bulbs that mimic natural light can also help.

Engaging your cognitive activity is important. This could mean playing a quiz game on your phone or computer.

Take a daytime walk

Others may opt to take a run or walk around the block. If you are able to get out, be sure to bundle up and go in the daylight, as snow piles are high and it can be hard for cars to see pedestrians.

Be sure to check the weather first, before heading out. Sometimes it is simply too dangerous to do long periods of physical activity outside if the temperatures are too low.

High carb and high fat foods, which many of us are attracted to in this weather, can only compound the problem and make us feel lethargic.

Complete indoor tasks

There are ways to get moving around the house. Clean out that room or complete that indoor project you’ve been putting off. Add some bright colors to your home decor. All those things can help us through these remaining weeks of winter.

Check out your local events to try to get out of the house. In this paper and at www.SheltonHerald.com, we have a listing of library, town and local church events that can provide some social time and fun for the entire family.

This winter has been tough for Shelton and the entire area, but it could always be worse — we could be living in Boston.