Beating The Winter Blues

Early winter, with its parties and presents, gets all the fun. But once the decorations come down, some people find themselves fighting a post-holiday funk — the festivities are over and the winter months still cloud the horizon.

If you’re feeling down this time of year, try these 6 mood-boosting tips from Mason Turner, MD, assistant director of Regional Mental Health Services for The Permanente Medical Group in Northern California.

1.    Remember a pleasant event or imagine yourself in a peaceful place.
2.    Do something that makes you laugh.
3.    Unwind with animals — walk your dog, pet your cat, or if you don’t have a pet, walk a neighbor’s dog. People with pets are happier, healthier, and better adjusted than those without, according to a study reported by the American Psychological Association.
4.    Set aside some “you” time for an activity you enjoy, like yoga or lunch with friends.
5.    Be kind to other people.
6.    Volunteer and support a cause that matters to you. People who volunteer have lower depression rates compared to those who don’t, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Can’t shake symptoms on your own?
Some people find their symptoms are more serious than just feeling blue. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can trigger depression. Researchers aren’t sure what causes SAD, but they believe lack of sunlight plays a role.

People with SAD might notice that around the start of fall they:
•    feel unhappy, moody, or anxious
•    are uninterested in their usual activities
•    crave carbohydrates and gain weight
•    sleep more than usual

Symptoms often last until April or May. If you think you might have SAD, Dr. Turner says it’s important to talk to your doctor. Light therapy — exposure to either a simulated dawn or bright light in the morning — works for many people with SAD. Antidepressants and counseling can also help.

Don’t suffer in silence. If you suspect you or someone you love may be suffering from depression, our health professionals can help.
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Mindful Wellness For The Holidays

Picture of Holiday decorations

During the winter holiday frenzy, it is easy to get too busy and to feel overwhelmed! Here are some practical tips to help you minimize the stress, maximize the joy, and stay healthy during the busiest time of year.


  • Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, volunteering your time to help others is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

  • Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.

  • Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. If it’s not possible to say no, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the additional time.

  • Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.

  • Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Be well, and enjoy a safe, healthy, and exceptionally happy Holiday season!