Feeling a little blue as the summer seems years away? Cheer up! According to www.mayoclinic.com, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) symptoms include cabin fever, eating more, sleeping more and an overall feeling of depression. As the temperature drops and the nights come earlier and last longer, people can find themselves in a winter “funk”. Louisville is a bit of a geographical anamoly, where we get the weather from the South and the weather from the North. You could have snow one day and 50 degrees the next, so no wonder people seem to be a little testy or grumpy this time of year! Fear not, Louisville.com readers! We have a list of tips, hints and ideas to help you fight the urge to become a winter recluse. Exercise. Yeah, it’s not always at the top of most people’s “fun list”. You’ll always find a reason not to exercise, so here are some good reasons TO exercise. Regular Activity/Exercise has been proven to improve your mood, combat chronic diseases, help to manage weight, strengthens your heart and lungs, and helps you sleep better. Join a gym, buy a wii fit or begin training for the mini marathon! Whatever your inspiration, the benefits of exercise are immeasurable. Speaking of… Sleep: Yes, the winter blues cause you to sleep a little more, but more sleep isn’t what you should try to attain- it’s BETTER sleep. Tips include: - Keeping your room at a cool 68 degrees. Keeping your body cool signals it to get into a deeper, more restful sleep - Throw out the alarm clock (literally) - tests have shown that the “alarm” that wakes your body up is too much of a transition from a great sleep to suddenly being awake. Try a more gradual approach like softer sounds or lights that start quietly over a period of 15-20 minutes. - Don’t procrastinate when getting up- hitting the snooze bar will only start your day off to a jostled beginning, and leaves you with the start and stop sensation, when your day needs to start with a bang! Once you’re awake and ready to start the day, make sure to have some sort of liquid to rehydrate yourself. As you sleep, you naturally become dehydrated and all functions of the body, including brainwork and muscles depend on that water. Eat a balanced breakfast that includes some kind of protein and no carbohydrates. Put the bagels and sugar-laden cereals in the trash! Protein keeps the body motivated and moving throughout the day, rather than carbs that give you an immediate boost and leave you sluggish soon after consumption. As your day moves along, most of us hit what is known as the “afternoon slump”. It’s been a hard day at work, you’ve already had lunch and you’re feeling a little sluggish. It’s a normal feeling, but one that you have to try to combat! Do so by: -Taking a quick walk. No, it doesn’t have to be a pedometer-breaking amount, but a quick 5-7 minute walk can provide you with the lift you need to feel rejuvenated. - Grab a drink! Water is a crucial component to being and staying healthy and staying hydrated (as noted above) helps the body to operate at its best throughout the day. -Have a snack: Not a Snickers Bar or doughnut… give yourself the best chance at a great day by bringing healthy snacks along to work like bananas or apples, whole grain crackers, yogurt or protein bars. Add light to your day: Light has been proven to help brighten up even the darkest moods. Open the blinds or trim some branches that are blocking sunlight into your home/workspace. Get outside! Take the trash out, sneak in a quick walk with the dog, or just walk to the mailbox. Being outside and being in the sunlight can do wonders for those feeling a little down. Get to know your triggers and how to fight them! Maybe you wake up most days already feeling down or maybe each day at a certain time, the “Debbie Downer” Bug comes knocking on your door. Whatever the trigger, know yourself and how to combat it. Find a relaxing book or TV show that makes you happy, send a text to someone you love or call up a friend you’ve been missing… chances are, they are missing you too. Whatever the reason, know that you’re not alone in feeling a little blue during the winter days. Just remember as each day passes, it’s a day closer to the spring and summertime!