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Things You Can Do to Fight off the Winter Blues

It’s that time of the year again: when the days are shorter, the wind bitingly cold, and the ground covered in snow. With everything around you looking so bleak, Millennium Dental has put together a list of 10 things you can do to fight off the winter blues.

Let’s begin…

1. Have lunch with a friend.

Sharing a meal with a friend is one of the quickest ways to lift your spirits, particularly if you’ve been cooped up all alone or surrounded by people who either frequently get on your nerves or are your harshest critics.

Call one of your friends and invite them to brunch at Prim & Proper, a restaurant in The Shops at Legacy West. You can have a glass of wine, share a cheese board, and reminisce about the good ‘ol days. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll both leave there smiling from ear to ear.

2. Go for a walk.

If you don’t feel safe meeting someone in a public place during a pandemic, then consider going for a solitary walk. It may sound counter-intuitive to go outside where it’s colder, but the fresh air alone will do wonders for your physical and mental health.

Take several big cleansing breaths as you walk, making sure your inhales are as long as your exhales. Try to clear your head of any thoughts, worries, and concerns. Notice how your toes are grounded to the earth, the way the cold wind makes your ears feel, and stay in the present moment.

3. Get more vitamin D.

Quick: do you know which hormone controls your mood? Yes, it’s serotonin. But do you also know where we get it from? Surprisingly—vitamin D. And one great source of it is the sun.

Even as you trudge through the snow with no rays in sight, your body is absorbing the natural sunlight. You can also increase your serotonin levels by simply sitting next to a window that lets in some sun for one or two hours a day. Alternatively, there’s always vitamin D supplements, but like my mother always says, “Nature is the best medicine.”

4. Consider light therapy.

If you’ve tried the above and your spirits are still low, you may benefit from a little light therapy. So how does this work? You’ll sit in front of a light box every morning for around 20 to 60 minutes. The idea behind it is that daily exposure to the bright artificial light will compensate for the diminished natural sunlight. Many people choose to do it as they get ready for the day or just sit and read a book or catch up on work.

You should, however, know that light therapy doesn’t work for everyone because some people may need more than the 10,000 lux. We recommend you seek professional help from your doctor before starting this treatment.

5. Go see Dr. Harrison.

Sometimes the winter blues have nothing to do with the weather. You’ve slowed down and started to notice things. The gap next to your upper canines has started looking bigger. A cavity you haven’t got around to telling your dentist about becomes one of the first things you think about in the morning. And let’s not start with the disheartening TV show hosts and their bright killer smiles.

If the last three sentences are you, then it’s time you went to see Dr. Harrison. She can give you dental implants to replace a lost tooth, offer fluoride treatment for your cavity, and whiten your teeth by up to nine shades. You’ll not only restore your chewing function, but you’ll also get a feel-good boost from seeing how great your smile looks—just in time for Valentine’s Day.

6. Just dance.

This one is simple: put on your favorite music and start moving to the beat. You don’t even have to dab or Gangnam style. Moving your arms around like you just don’t care will do the trick. You’ll activate the pleasure centers of your brain and release mood-elevating endorphins. Not to mention that an energetic dance around the room is excellent exercise…

7. Start exercising.

For some people, dancing can make you feel self-conscious, if that’s you, don’t sweat it. Moving your muscles, whether it’s through spinning, yoga, swimming, or running, also releases endorphins. Aim to do at least three hours of cardio or aerobic exercises every week.

To start you off, check the spin classes at Neon + Cycle Strength. You’ll have access to child care as you work out as well as a full smoothie bar. And if you want some additional heat, Yoga Factory has a warm yoga studio at The Shops at Legacy in Plano.

8. Journal.

Writing your thoughts down usually doesn’t get enough credit as a way to combat the blues. But look at it this way: if you put down on paper what you’re thinking—stuff you’re worried or anxious about—you can read it the next day and things won’t look so bleak. Instead of being the person with a problem, you’ll be thinking of a way to solve it—just like you do for your friends and your kids.

9. Social media cleanse.

Reducing screen time should have been the first thing on this list but we wanted to start off with some quick fixes, get you comfortable and then—bam!—ask you to take a break from social media.

Yes, you’re probably cooped up at home with little to do, and looking at pictures of people sun-basking or swimming in the tropics keeps the boredom away. But it’s counterproductive. A University of Michigan study found it actually makes you sadder to see other people happy.

Take a break from screens, go on a social media cleanse, and lift your spirits.

10. Seek professional help.

If you’ve tried everything on this list (and then some) and nothing seems to be working, it’s time to seek professional help. A therapist can help you manage depression and even prescribe antidepressants if what you’re feeling is more than winter blues. See your doctor for some advice or visit Mental Health America for some more options. Asking for help can be a relief and start you on a journey to a happier you.