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By Debi Budnick
Klickitat County Public Health Department 

You don't have to let winter blues get your mind down

For Your Health

 


February is maybe best described as “the light at the end of winter’s tunnel.” It’s a great way to look at it because for some people, winter can lead to feelings of sadness, lethargy, and gloom. Sometimes these feeling pass within a few days. They may, however, stick around for a long time and be considered a form of depression. The National Institute of Mental Health describes depression as a painful condition that interferes with daily life. It is a common but serious illness for which many people may never seek treatment. If you are concerned that you might be depressed, talk to your doctor. In the meantime, anyone feeling down can focus on engaging in activities that are proven to help boost your mood.

Phone a friend

If you’re experiencing the blues, open up to someone you trust and get things off your chest. Find some time to be social with people who bring you happiness. If there is someone in your life who you think might be depressed, consider reaching out to them. Steven Wolpert, a licensed counselor in Klickitat County, offers some suggestions on how to be supportive. “Listen rather than lecture,” he says. “Convey true caring. Ask open ended, curiosity questions.” He reminds us to not give up on checking in with someone, even if they don’t want to talk right away.

Talk it out

Talking things out with a professional therapist in a safe environment is an important treatment for the blues or depression. A counselor can help you learn to change your perspective as well as any behaviors that might be making your depression worse. Comprehensive Mental Health, with offices in Goldendale and White Salmon, offers counseling services and a 24-hour crisis hotline (1-800-572-8122). They are a non-profit organization that accepts state medical insurance. There are also many private practice therapists in our area. Be open to meeting with a few counselors until you find one that’s the best fit for you.

Walk it off

Dr. Jennifer Silapie of Mountain Sage Medicine, who offers naturopathic services through the Goldendale Chiropractic clinic, reminds us that walking outside is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your mental health. “It doesn’t have to be vigorous,” she says. “10 minutes is all you need for a little pick-me-up. Even if it is cloudy or rainy, your body is still absorbing ultraviolet light that we all need this time of year.” The benefits are greater if you can find some company for your walk. Studies suggest that the combination of physical activity and being outside with others is linked to significant improvements in one’s mood.

Eat real food

If you find yourself down in the dumps, ditch the Ding-Dongs and go for a healthier diet. When you are eating food that’s good for you, your body will respond by physically feeling better. Just as important, though, is the joy you can take in knowing that you’re treating yourself well. Start by cutting back on processed foods, or as Dr. Silape calls them, “things that come in packages.” Consider that every time you eat you have an opportunity to be good to yourself.

Get your mind going

Rather than stewing on the negative, go for a little change of perspective by getting your mind focused on something else. Steven Wolpert notes that reading spiritual texts (of most any denomination) can be inspiring and encourage gratefulness. Taking up a new hobby can also stimulate your mind. The important thing is to find something engaging and enjoyable to do if you find yourself stuck in a mental rut.

 

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