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How to conquer the winter blues

Growing up as a young girl, my grandmother used to talk of the "dark days of Christmas." I was bewildered. What on earth could she find dark about a season of such joy, festivity, light and fun? My thought process about the season was, of course, confined to my youthful years. Yet, on first hearing, I believe that both Christians and non-Christians alike would find her description an odd one of the month of December given all the decorations, parties and bright lights throughout our communities. Later, I would find out one of the key reasons behind my grandmother's imagery: the downward spiral of daylight until the winter solstice. After that, watching the days GAIN in length (albeit in minute day-by-day increments) became almost an obsession of mine - a great way of adjudicating, even if only psychologically, those awful winter blahs and blues. Combined with a few other suggestions, it's a great way of looking ahead, and staying optimistic, instead of going into the typical downward spiral.

Here are a few other suggestions for conquering the winter blues. Some may work for some of you, some may work for others. With a combination of ingenuity and acceptance, you'll find spring is here before you know it!

1) Consider a "swim with the tide" approach. Amidst a world and age in which many are expected to be "on" 24/7 for jobs and commitments, embrace the winter on a psychic basis and spend more time in a relaxed and introspective manner. Read the books you've never gotten to read; soak your feet and be good to yourself.

2) Rejuvenate friendships you may have neglected. We often lack the time to get together with friends around the holidays, though we're in the spirit to do so. Focus on those friends and relationships and be sure to make plans. It will give you something to look forward to.

3) If you're so inclined and will have the available funds, research your next vacation. It takes time to find the best places at the best prices and there's no better time to think of exotic, colorful and warm places, than when you have the down time that long winter evenings afford.

4) Take up a new hobby. Local libraries and community organizations are filled with events, courses and instructional sessions especially around this time of year. If you are afraid to brave the cold or want to avoid inclement weather, opt for a hobby you can do at home.

5) Check out winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding. And, for the less coordinated, even try snow tubing! Staying active makes you feel good, particularly during the doldrums of winter.

6) Nurture the altruistic side of your nature and consider how you might help others. Nothing beats conquering how "down" you might feel, more than helping someone in need and putting your own life in perspective. Volunteer as much for yourself as for them!

Finally, always remember the saying "sure as the day is long" and the fact that soon the day will, in fact, be long again. As sure as you were that life couldn't get any more down as it does in the doldrums of winter, it will be time in May and June to be amazed at the upward spiral of the length of days.

So, until the "dark days of Christmas" roll around again, stay positive and embrace all the good things we can find and do in our lives!

How do you beat the winter blues?

About the author: Shana is a friend of House Party. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and concerts. Her party tip: Dessert, specifically chocolate.

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