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“Christmas is over, you’ve put on weight, it’s cold out, it’s dark out, your credit card bills are in, you’re not going to get another day off until March, and you’re tired.

You might even be depressed.

If so, you are not alone, especially not today. For today, according to one measure, is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year.” (Montreal Gazette)

Blue Monday sounds pretty gloomy. But for many, it truly is. For some, this January funk is a result of cold weather, overspending during the holidays, the dollar (if you’re Canadian), a relationship gone sour, or job dissatisfaction. For others, it’s something more serious.

Today, no matter where you’re at, I wanted to give you 10 power tips to help beat the winter blues. Ten power tips to get you out of the January funk. Ten suggestions you can do NOW, to give yourself some relief.

1. Make some great delicious homemade soup and feed it to your girlfriends, boyfriends, hubbies and kids. There’s nothing like a great bowl of soup on a cold and gloomy day. I enjoy following recipes from Dave Lieberman of The Food Network. He came to cook for a large group of women at a charity luncheon a few years ago, and I really loved his style- healthy and simple. Here’s a great recipe for one of my favorite soups, Butternut Squash. Here is Lieberman’s version, Butternut Squash Pear. Yum!

2. Diet has a major effect on mood. Studies have also connected depression with low levels of folic acid. So, if you’re not getting it from diet, possibly consider taking a supplement. If you want to supplement the folic acid in your diet, eat at least 2-3 meals of cold-water fish a week, some egg yolks, nuts, almonds, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, and bananas, oranges and peaches.

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3. Get some extra natural help. If you’re like me, and hate drugs, you might try the natural route. Vitamin D and B12 supplements are great immune system and mood boosters. You know that you get vitamin D from sunlight, so try and get outside when you can. If not, a supplement in winter months is very helpful. Both hubby and I are on a multivitamin, plus an extra supplement of Vitamin D to fight colds and flues. And Complex B12 is a great help in elevating mood, and so is the amino acid THEANINE (which I learned a lot about last year). These vitamins are not expensive and are natural. Try them (after speaking to your doctor or pharmacist). Also, if you’re fighting any flu, I love Oregano Oil and Oscillococcinum to boost immunity. Again, speak to your doctor first.

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4. Buy a Full Spectrum Lamp. Studies show that people’s mood elevate simply by being in or around full spectrum light. Just by putting your desk near a window, you’re helping yourself during the long dark winter months. And make sure to get outside and get plenty of fresh air!

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5. Commit to 5-30 minutes a day of meditation. To begin, start with 5 minutes. I have been meditating for 7 years, and it has done wonders for me. Most people find 15 minutes optimal, but literally 5 minutes of meditation is beneficial. As for how often, it is said that meditation should be aimed for daily, like brushing your teeth. I don’t meditate daily, but I try to as often as I can, (about 3-4 times per week). Whenever there is the Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21 Day Meditation challenge, I enjoy that guided meditation. There are lots of great podcasts on meditation, and HEADSPACE and OMG I CAN MEDITATE are two awesome resources for meditation apps.

6. Pamper yourself. While this can be expensive, and may seem somewhat superficial, it can work, ladies. Sometimes we simply need to put ourselves back on our own “to-do” lists. Treating yourself to that mani-pedi, or massage, coupled with some soothing tea, and a great magazine is relaxing. I’m not saying it’s a cure to the winter funk, but sometimes, it helps chill us out a little.

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7. Reconnect with friends, especially in the winter – Social Connection. The studies show that social connection can help fight depression, and the flip side is true as well. Isolation and lack of social connection has been known to play a factor in depression. So there you have it, your girlfriends are actually GOOD for your health, and one study found that lack of social connection is as bad as smoking.

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8. Create a ‘worry list’, and leave it on your nightstand (this helps me so much!!) My therapist gave me this tip when I was on the brink of my burnout and wasn’t sleeping. A worry list is exactly what it sounds like. If you wake up in the middle of the night with something on your mind, write it down and forget about it. Give yourself the mental space to relax and sleep, knowing that you’ve recorded the concern to deal with it later and the next day.

9. Ask yourself, is it a funk or just fatigue? Sometimes we confuse the two.  Sometimes we feel like we are in rut, when really, we are just sleep deprived and exhausted. On the weekends, or whenever you can, it is imperative that you RELAX and allow for downtime. Furthermore, recent studies show now more than ever, the importance of good restorative sleep. As many hours of sleep before midnight as possible is most optimal— countless studies show the health benefits of sleeping as any hours as possible before midnight. If you wish to feel more energized during the day, program your body to go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night until a pattern develops. Sleep is your biggest immunity booster and stress fighter. Cut the caffeine intake, get some exercise, and set a cut-off time from work every night.

“In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.”

10. And finally, if it’s more than a rut, it’s time to seek medical advice. There is nothing more to say on this point. If you cannot pull yourself out from the darkness, and are having chronic negative thoughts, it’s time to seek professional help. There is no shame in saying you need medical intervention. Sometimes we go through bouts of depression, and dealing with it the minute it arises is crucial to our well-being.

So ladies, we are almost there. Spring is around the corner. Do what you can today, to ensure good mental and physical health until that spring rebirth takes place.

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I’d love to know your tips on beating the winter blues. What works for you? What are your tricks for getting out of a rut? Happy Martin Luther King Day – a day to be celebrated.