Food for Thought: Staying positive in the winter

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Now that the holidays are over, the decorations taken down, the credit bills arriving and the extra pounds showing, it is no wonder many people are experiencing a letdown.

The colder weather and the shorter, darker days donít help much either. However, you donít have to fall victim to the winter blues.

Look at this time of the year as an opportunity to evaluate different areas of you life and incorporate changes that would enrich or develop personal growth.

Spiritually, take time to reconnect with your inner self. Are you where you want to be? If not, what would it take to get there?

Take time to examine your relationship with family, friends and your Higher Power. Take 10 to 20 minutes a day for some quiet time.

Stay active socially and do not isolate yourself. Plan a weekly dinner for some of your friends and coworkers. Invite people over for coffee or lunch on a frequent basis.

Volunteer your time at church, school, nursing home, library, senior citizen center, food share or service organizations such as the Elks, Eagles, American Legion, etc.

Stay active mentally. Get a new hobby or learn a new skill. Take a course online or take a course in your community through adult education. Start or join a book club, or read all those books you promised yourself you would but never had the time to do.

Buy flowers to brighten your spirit.

Stay active physically. Walk or join Curves or a dance group. Take up snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross country skiing, or yoga.

Create a space in your home for a stationary bike or treadmill. Buy tapes on exercising or on hip hop dancing.

Stay healthy. Buy a cook book on healthy gourmet cooking.

Try a new main dish or a side vegetable dish with a vegetable you donít normally eat. There is strong evidence to indicate Omega 3 oils improve depression in patients. So try some broiled fish with some ground flaxseed or put some flaxseed on your oatmeal.

Lack of sunlight can lead to SADS (seasonal affective disorder) or other forms of depression. As little as 10 or 15 minutes of sunlight can help. If this is not possible, buy a full spectrum light that mimics sunlight.

Remember you have a choice about how you think. People can only hold one thought at a time. Focus on a thought that makes you feel good. Focus on reasons to feel happy and hopeful.

Count your blessings both big and small. Positive thinking DOES make a big difference.

Finally if none of these suggestions work you need to seek help from your family doctor and/or a professional counselor.

ó Dr. Leta A. Livoti Ph.D., LCSW, LCPC is a psychotherapist in Thompson Falls.

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