Ways to perk up and beat the winter blues

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If you feel like you haven’t seen the sun in a while, you’re not alone.

“Because of the hours that we work, its dark when we’re leaving, its dark when we come in, and so it is easy to get to the point where you just want to come home, get warm and go to bed,” said Indianapolis resident Misha Huffman.

Doctors say this is the time of year when many people report feeling unmotivated.

“Sometimes in Indiana we find we can go two or three weeks without sunshine and even people with the sunniest dispositions can get cranky,” said Kimble Richardson, a mental health counselor at St. Vincent’s Stress Center.

He said feeling a little sadder during the bleak stretch of cold winter months is normal. But if you find yourself not wanting to socialize and sleeping a lot for several days in a row, it could be a sign of something more serious like seasonal affective disorder.

“If it starts to definitely cause impairment in your ability to function at work or in personal relationships, that would be a time to seek professional help,” Richardson said.

Experts say one of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to be active and set goals for yourself. People often let their New Year’s resolutions to get fit fall by the wayside in February, but sticking to a plan and achieving a goal can be a big mood booster.

“Whenever I hear people talking about just a weight goal, I try to have them expand that,” said David Creel, a nutritionist with St. Vincent Health.  “Are there certain things that you would like your body to do rather than you want your body to weigh? Maybe they want to do a 5K this year. That is something very measurable that you can train for and accomplish.”

Even if your resolution doesn’t have anything to do with getting in shape or being healthier, exercising can release natural endorphins that can perk you up.

“I’ve been surrounding myself with people who are encouraging me to do those things and it’s just made it seem like not such a struggle for me,” said Katina Smith, an Indianapolis resident who said she’s done well so far this year sticking to her goals.

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