Tag Archives: winter blues

Sunday Morning Shout Out


Source: Ken Lauer, Nov. 2014

Source: Ken Lauer, Nov. 2014

Winter is coming to an end but is it too cold to go outside and play?  Are the roads super bad, preventing you from going anywhere?  Are you stuck home?  Is everyone sick with the sinus junk that’s been going around?  Has pure, pervasive cabin fever struck? Recently, “The Washington Post’s, On Parenting section, reposted a popular article, “10 Indoor Activities to Get You Through Winter,” by Lauren Knight, that might just be the solution.

1)  Cardboard playhouses, rockets, jets, cabins, etc: Build a cardboard playhouse or cardboard anything for your child. It is truly amazing to see how children imagine things when they are given a big box to play in for a day. If your house is anything like mine, a big box like this is not just a day, but multi-day piece of fun.

2 )  Make homemade play dough: There are a gazillion online recipes for making this kid favorite. While playing with it is good fun, making it is too. It is also a whole lot cheaper and less toxic than the stuff in the store.

3)  Sumo wrestle: Let me just say, I read this idea and laughed. The premise is to size up that perfect moment where your children need to blow off steam. Give them each a large overstuffed t-shirt, in which they can stuff pillows in the back and front. Let them wrestle and do their thing, while you laugh.

4)  Make marshmallow structures: With marshmallows and pasta, design possibilities and great geometry lessons are limitless.

5)  Cardboard monster feet: Make cardboard monster feet, with cardboard you have left over from the playhouse, rocket ship, fort, etc. Reduce, reuse, and roar!

6)  “Mad scientist bath”: Let your child take a “Mad Scientist” bath. With the aid of a plastic stool to set experiments on, measuring cups, soap and water, and containers, let your child play away in the water and see what she can “create.”

7)  Pool noodle racetracks: Make a marble race track (or one for cars) by cutting a pool noodle in half lengthwise. The idea is to have two of them. Children can race their marbles or racecars, and see which ones are the fastest.

8)Indoor scavenger hunt: Create an indoor scavenger hunt for your children. Hide clues, have them work as teams, and have a great find at the end.

9)  Build a tapestry table: I am not feeling this one, but the author says you can pick up an old coffee table at a secondhand store and staple a large piece of burlap material around the edges. With this, some scraps of yarn, string, large plastic children sewing needles, and some desperation, children can learn how to sew.

10)  Make a reading nook: Either collect a bunch of books from the library or around the house and create a special, most comfy corner, pile of pillows, or room, replete with even more pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals to read-away for an afternoon or snowstorm. (Now that sounds downright awesome to me!)

With these great ideas, cabin fever will be cured in no time and a greater appreciation for the season may just be.  Plus, Spring is just around the corner!

 

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


To quote our three and a half year-old, quoting a “Thomas the Tank Engine” movie, I think my head is going to become a Popsicle. In fact, I think collectively Western New Yorkers everywhere are officially becoming Popsicles. With no annual January thaw and over 60 steady days of frigid, sub freezing weather and snow, we are getting freezer burnt! Before we all start going “mad” with collective brain freeze, perhaps it is best to round up some great winter activities to embrace the cold or beat it.  Remember these day lovingly since soon enough you’ll have the Air Conditioning on in July and August (that is if Lake Erie thaws) and begin dreaming of our winter wonderland!

The “Buffalo Event Calendar” allows you to search for WNY events and showcases top notch activities in our area.  From skating at Canal Side and Rotary Rink to annual events like the “Farm Show and the “Auto Show,” this is a great online source for individuals and families seeking fun and unique activities to do this season.  Check out your town or village’s website for winter festivals and special events. From inside music to outside skating, to vendors, chicken barbeques, lectures, and more, our area municipalities offer many fun things to do in the cold. –Which brings me to our local libraries.  Outside the great books and periodicals, many libraries offer in house movie nights; loan DVDS and video games; and host lectures, book clubs, and other special events to squelch the toughest case of cabin fever.  Pick up a book and start an adventure! Go to the library and have a great new experience!

Speaking of ending cabin fever, what do you and your family like to do to beat this “bug”? –Beat it before it beats you!  Sometimes ordinary activities just need a nice spin to become a special event in the home.  Make movie night, the home drive in, minus the exhaust fumes and mosquitoes!  Better yet, perhaps you can go camping after the movies in the great wilds of your living room.  Or maybe a game night, turns into a camp-out replete with storytelling (read or spoken) and a big bowl of popcorn and a side of laughter and good memories.  Which outdoor activity do you enjoy with your family this time of year, sledding, skiing , or riding snow mobiles?  Do you want to build a snowman? Snicker, snicker… Maybe going outside has little to no appeal? But perhaps just stepping outside on a beautiful starlit night, or bundling up and taking a walk is just what the doctor ordered. Look at the beautiful sparkle of the snow.  Winter will be over soon enough and time just keeps passing….’do you wanna build a snowman?’

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Filed under Education, Health, My Experiences, Parenting

Sunday Morning Shout Out


To quote our three and a half year-old, quoting a “Thomas the Tank Engine” movie, ‘I think my head is going to become a Popsicle‘.  In fact, I think collectively Western New Yorkers (and New Englanders) everywhere are officially becoming Popsicles.  With perhaps a day of January thaw and steady days of cold weather and snow, we are getting freezer burnt!  Now February is here and there is little sign of any break in the snow or chill.  Before we all start going “mad” with collective brain freeze, perhaps it is best to round-up some great winter activities to embrace the cold or beat it.

The “Buffalo Event Calendar” showcases top-notch winter activities in our area. From skating at Canal Side and Rotary Rink to annual events like the “Farm Show and the “Auto Show,” this is a great online source for individuals and families seeking fun and unique activities to do this season.  Check out your town or village’s website for winter festivals and special events.  From inside music to outside skating, to vendors, chicken barbeques, lectures, and more, our area municipalities offer many fun things to do in the cold. –Which brings me to our local libraries.  Outside the great books and periodicals, many libraries offer in-house movie nights; loan DVDS and video games; and host lectures, book clubs, and other special events to squelch the toughest case of cabin fever.  Pick up a book and start an adventure! Go to the library and have a great new experience!

Speaking of ending cabin fever, what do you and your family like to do to beat this “bug”? –Beat it before it beats you!  Sometimes ordinary activities just need a nice spin to become a special event in the home.  Make movie night, the home drive in, minus the exhaust fumes and mosquitoes!  Better yet, perhaps you can go camping after the movies in the great wilds of your living room.  Or maybe a game night, turns into a campout replete with storytelling (read or spoken) and a big bowl of popcorn and a side of laughter and good memories.

Which outdoor activity do you enjoy with your family this time of year, sledding, skiing , or riding snow mobiles?  Do you want to build a snowman? Snicker, snicker… Maybe going outside has little to no appeal?  But perhaps just stepping outside on a beautiful starlit night, or bundling up and taking a walk is just what the doctor ordered.  Winter will be over soon enough and time just keeps passing….

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Filed under Education, Health, My Experiences, Parenting

Sunday Morning Shout Out


The first real snow fall hit Western New York this past week and it made for a perfect ‘White Christmas’. Most of this happiness about snow will be dashed in about two weeks though as the snow piles accumulate, we don’t get enough sunlight, the cold gets to our cores and boredom or cabin craziness starts to settle in for many of us adults and parents. Unfortunately, our dour winter persona often gets transferred to our children because we don’t let them enjoy the winter outdoors as much as we could.

To help overcome your winter blues before they get to your children you might try looking around the web for ways to avoid winter depression. One article I continually find really useful is “12 Winter Depression Busters” by Therese J. Borchard. Her 12 points and comments as taken from the article are:

1. Watch the sugar.

I think our body gets the cue just before Thanksgiving that it will be hibernating for a few months, so it needs to ingest everything edible in sight. And I’m convinced the snow somehow communicates to the human brain the need to consume every kind of chocolate available in the house.

Depressives and addicts need to be especially careful with sweets because the addiction to sugar and white-flour products is very real and physiological, affecting the same biochemical systems in your body as other drugs like heroin. According to Kathleen DesMaisons, author of “Potatoes Not Prozac”: Your relationship to sweet things is operating on a cellular level. It is more powerful than you have realized….What you eat can have a huge effect on how you feel.”

2. Stock up on Omega-3′s.

During the winter I’m religious about stocking in my medicine cabinet a Noah’s Ark supply of Omega-3 capsules because leading physicians at Harvard Medical School confirmed the positive effects of this natural, anti-inflammatory molecule on emotional health. I treat my brain like royalty–hoping that it will be kind to me in return–so I fork over about $30 a month for the Mac Daddy of the Omega-3s, capsules that contain 70 percent EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). One 500mg softgel capsule meets the doctor-formulated 7:1 EPA to DHA ratio, needed to elevate and stabilize mood.

3. Give back.

Gandhi once wrote that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Positive psychologists like University of Pennsylvania’s Martin Seligman and Dan Baker, Ph.D., director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, believe that a sense of purpose–committing oneself to a noble mission–and acts of altruism are strong antidotes to depression.

4. Join the gym.

Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse not to sweat. We have centers today called “gyms” where people exercise inside! Granted, it’s not the same–watching the news or listening to the soundtrack from “Rocky” as you run in place as opposed to jogging along wooded paths with a view of the bay. But you accomplish the goal: a heart rate over 140 beats a minute.

5. Use a light lamp.

Bright-light therapy–involving sitting in front of a fluorescent light box that delivers an intensity of 10,000 lux–can be as effect as antidepressant medication for mild and moderate depression and can yield substantial relief for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I usually turn on my mammoth HappyLite in November, just after my least favorite day of the year: when Daylight Saving Time ends and we “fall back” an hour, which means that I have about an hour of sunlight to enjoy after I pick up the kids from school.

6. Wear bright colors.

I have no research supporting this theory, but I’m quite convinced there is a link between feeling optimistic and sporting bright colors. It’s in line with “faking it ’til you make it,” desperate attempts to trick your brain into thinking that it’s sunny and beautiful outside–time to celebrate Spring!–even though it’s a blizzard with sleet causing some major traffic jams.

Personally, I tend to wear black everyday in the winter. It’s supposed to make you look thinner. But the result is that I appear as if and feel like I’m going to a funeral every afternoon between the months of November and March. This isn’t good. Not for a person hardwired to stress and worry and get depressed when it’s cold. So I make a conscious effort to wear bright green, purple, blue, and pink, and sometimes–if I’m in a rush–all of them together!

7. Force yourself outside.

I realize that the last thing you want to do when it’s 20 degrees outside and the roads are slushy is to head outside for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. It’s much more fun to cuddle up with a good novel or make chocolate chip cookies and enjoy them with a hot cup of joe.

On many winter days–especially in late January and early February when my brain is done with the darkness–I have to literally force myself outside, however brief. Because even on cloudy and overcast days, your mood can benefit from exposure to sunlight. Midday light, especially, provides Vitamin D to help boost your limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. And there is something so healing about connecting with nature, even if it’s covered in snow.

8. Hang out with friends.

This seems like an obvious depression buster. Of course you get together with your buddies when your mood starts to go south. But that’s exactly when many of us tend to isolate. I believe that it takes a village to keep a person sane and happy. That’s why we need so many support groups today. People need to be validated and encouraged and inspired by persons on the same journey. And with all the technology today, folks don’t even have to throw on their slippers to get to a support group. Online communities provide a village of friendship right at your computer.

9. Head south.

Granted, this solution isn’t free, especially if you live in Maine. But you need not travel like the Kennedys to transplant your body and mind to a sunny spot for a few days. I try to schedule our yearly vacation the last week of January or the first week of February so that it breaks up the winter and so that I have something to look forward to in those depressing weeks following the holidays.

10. Take up a project.

There’s no time like winter to start a home project, like decluttering the house or purging all the old clothes in your kids’ closets. When a friend of mine was going through a tough time, she painted her entire house–every room downstairs with two different colors. And it looked professional! Not only did it help distract her from her problems, but it provided her with a sense of accomplishment that she desperately needed those months, something to feel good about as she saw other things crumble around her. Projects like organizing bookshelves, shredding old tax returns, and cleaning out the garage are perfect activities for the dreary months of the year.

11. Challenge yourself.

My mood can often be lifted by meeting a new challenge–an activity that is formidable enough to keep my attention, but easy enough to do when my brain is muddied. Learning how to record and edit video blogs, for this girl who hates technology, turned out to be great fun. Friends of mine get the same boost by joining Jenny Craig and losing the 25 pounds of baby fat, or exploring a new hobby–like scrapbooking. I try to stretch myself in a small way every winter–whether it be taking a writing class, researching the genetics of mood disorders, or trying to build myself a website. It keeps my brain from freezing, like the rest of my body.

12. Light a candle.

If I counted up all the minutes I’ve spent staring into a flame, I wonder how many years of my life that would be. Certainly more than the hours I’ve spent brushing my teeth or combing my hair. It would probably even surpass the combination of bath and shower time. But I just feel better if I stick my face in a hot glowing body of flame.

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