Facing post-holiday blahs

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

With Christmas recently over and New Years soon to be over, many people are facing, or soon will face, the post-holiday blahs.

There are no major celebrations on the horizon and most of the cold and dark winter lies before us.

For some people, winter depression can be a serious condition. Most people don't experience clinical depression because of winter but many do suffer some degree of weariness this time of year.

Some people find winter an entertaining time of year. Sports enthusiasts enjoy the climax of the football season and the middle of basketball season. Gardeners look forward to getting seed catalogs in the mail. Making selections for spring planting is a way to alleviate winter blahs.

Others need to take a more active approach to fend off winter weariness. Getting outside every day, if only for a short walk, is a good idea except in the worst winter conditions.

Another thing that psychologists have discovered through research into winter depression is that bright light helps people's mental state in the winter. Rather than keeping light to a minimum, people should think about increasing the wattage on light bulbs and keeping more lights on.

This runs counter to advice on conserving energy, but lighting takes only a fraction of home energy use. Having bright lights on is far less costly than operating many household appliances. If increasing the lighting cost slightly helps avoid depression, it is well worth it.

Although we cannot expect warmer weather any time soon, we can take some comfort in the fact that we are on our way to longer daylight hours. The winter solstice, the day with the shortest period of sunlight, is behind us and the days will gradually get longer.