8 Natural Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

[via living.health]

8 winter mood-boosters from Dr. Howard
1. Take the best preventive action next fall—before winter begins. Between October 1 and October 15, go somewhere with a lot of sun and spend time outside four hours a day, four days in a row. This really works, says Dr. Howard.

2. Get a Lights of America desk lamp. Put it right next to your computer and use it at least one hour a day, especially in the early evening. This is easier to fit into good old “real life” than using those expensive light boxes that you’re supposed to bask in front of for 45 minutes in the morning, says Dr. Howard. I mean, who’s got an 45 extra minutes in the morning? (The lamp retails for $40, although I found it for less here.)

3. Exercise at least four to six times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. This can be a 2-mile-an-hour walk on the treadmill, or you can even walk through the halls and up and down the stairs of your house or building. Do something, anything.

4. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs work well for some people, but have to be tailored to the individual by a TCM practitioner.

5. Try SAM-e (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine). This naturally occurring bodily compound helps produce and regulate hormones, including the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine; low levels of these are associated with depression. Dr. Howard recommends taking 400 to 800 milligrams daily. Brands that passed the independent tests for potency, conducted by ConsumerLab.com, include GNC, Natrol, and NutraLife. St. John’s wort, which has been touted as a SAD remedy, doesn’t seem to be effective for relieving seasonal affective disorder, Dr. Howard notes.

6. Take a fish oil supplement with at least 600 milligrams of combined EPA/DHA daily.

7. Take 500 milligrams of vitamin C three to four times a day with plenty of water, and a B-complex vitamin.

8. If you feel hopeless or in a state of deep despair during the winter, see your health-care practitioner. You may need an antidepressant medication during the November to April season, says Dr. Howard. Low-dose Zoloft or Levoxyl can be good choices, she says.

As for me right now, I’m planning an imaginary vacation (or, who knows? I could get lucky and actually take it!) somewhere warm and sunny for next October. Just the thought of being on a white sandy beach with turquoise water lapping at my toes is enough to make me feel a whole lot sunnier.

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