Building snowmen, going skiing, sipping hot cocoa by a roaring fireplace-- Well, for a lot of people, this time of year isn't fun at all it's a big downer. Experts say that approximately 20% of North Americans suffer from depression during the winter months. And once it strikes, your body has a hard time maintaining stable levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, causing you to feel even worse--This chemical imbalance can be helped with medication, but drugs aren't the only option. You can also lift your mood naturally by making a few lifestyle adjustments. Here they are, courtesy of Men's Fitness magazine.
- Head south. The amount of sunlight you get each day has a major impact on your ability to fight depression. For example, 10% of sun-starved Alaska residents suffer winter depression, but only 1% of Floridians do--You need at least 30 minutes of direct sunlight every day before noon, when the rays are the strongest. If you can't get this, a one-week trip to a sunny place will lift your mood for weeks after you return home.
- Also, hit the gym. Experts say you need to work out when battling depression. Exercise increases serotonin production, which is why runners sometimes feel a "high" after a tough race--As little as 8 minutes of strenuous exercise works wonders.
- And one last way to fight depression: Keep busy and always try new things. Different projects give you opportunities to make new connections with people, and to find small satisfactions in a variety of things. So take a history class, join a bowling team or just volunteer to baby-sit your neighbor's kid. Keeping busy will help you get a handle on your depression, so you can start the New Year off on the right foot.