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8 quirky tricks to avoid the winter blues
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Cold gray weather getting you down? Eat expensive chocolate (science says so). - photo by Emily Cummings
Feeling tired and sad this winter? It could be the fact that there are no more pumpkin spice lattes, realizing summer is still a far way off, or you could sufferer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). With a fitting acronym, SAD symptoms include low energy, over-sleeping, depression, and fatigue. Sound familiar?

When the clouds get gray and gloomy, test out these quirky remedies:

Eat expensive chocolate

Ever wonder why eating chocolate makes you feel happier? Yes, its delicious, but chocolate also contains a couple of chemicals that boost happiness levels in your brain. High quality chocolate has less sugar and fat, and more of these mood boosting chemicals, like phenylethlyamine, which makes you feel alert and excited. Februarys gloom might be easier to handle if a square of dark chocolate ends your day.

Redecorate

Pull back the curtains and repaint rooms with light-colored interiors. Having more natural light and having a brighter interior can really boost your mood. Plus, having something like a project to work on can give you motivation to get out of bed, get ready for the day, and accomplish something on your to-do list.

Sport socks with cats on them

Okay, the cat print isnt necessary, but keeping your body warmer can make you feel happier. Cold sends signs of distress to your body and mind which can compound feelings of being sad. Test out wearing some cute socks to wear around the house to keep you warm and toasty (and nice and happy).

Call in for an early wakeup call

Getting more sunlight can be a simple fix for some of your symptoms. With the sun setting earlier, it makes sense to wake up earlier in order for you to get some sunlight in your day. Taking lunch outside to get an extra dose of Vitamin D is also a good idea. Or you could be more Swede (see below).

Be Swede

SAD is common in the United States, but is especially frequent in Scandinavia and other places where sunlight is limited in the winter months. To treat symptoms, some doctors recommend sitting under a light box for several hours a day. There are even light box cafs in Sweden, Denmark and Norway where you can munch on lunch while getting in your light box therapy. Win-win.

Pile on the cod liver

.or other foods high in Vitamin D like mushrooms, salmon, fortified cereals, and eggs. Eating them all at once isn't the brightest idea (mmm...cod liver oil cereal?), but doctors suggest a combination of food with complex carbs, omega-3s, natural sugars and proteins. Yum.

Run from the zombies

Exercise isnt the cure-all for everything, but we all know working out releases feel good endorphins in your brain. Theres a few apps that can make running a bit more fun, like using "Zombies, Run" that makes your daily turn into an exhilarating supply run and several narrow escapes from the zombies who are chasing you.

Use up all your vacation days

Or maybe just take a long weekend. Getting out of town to someplace warm and sunny can be a fab way to combat symptoms if you can afford it. If you are saving vacation days for later, be a little silly and host a summer party inside. Being social can also combat symptoms, and wouldnt it be fun to sip fruity cocktails, watch a beachy movie, and wear floral leis in February?

While it may help to find a few quirky ways to be happier in gray and gloomy weather, please talk to your doctor if you feel your symptoms might be closer to depression.
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