In last week’s blog, I gave you some ideas on how you can spoil your spouse any day of the week. I was greatly encouraged to hear how so many people appreciated the ideas. In fact, several people are already trying them. I had one friend call me to thank me for the suggestions and said he was going to call his wife later that day to tell her she didn’t need to worry about dinner that night; he was taking care of it. He said she will be shocked when he calls to tell her this.
Last year, during the month of February, I introduced the “Love Challenge.” It was a challenge for my readers to submit their best definition of Love. We got some great responses. The winner got a gift card to a restaurant of their choice. This year, we are excited to be able to offer the Love Challenge again, but the way you win this year is to submit your BEST COMPELLING story or example of how your spouse, or fiancée, consistently shows their love for you. If you are not married or engaged, you can submit a story of someone you know. Remember, the key word is consistently. We are not looking for the great one-time story, even though this is good stuff, rather we are looking for how someone has consistently demonstrated their love for their spouse over a period of time. Please submit your response in the comment section at the bottom of the blog. My team will take all the responses, look them over, and decide on a winner by the Friday after Valentine’s Day, which is February 17th. The winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Everyone can use that, right?
As a bonus for reading this far, I have included a few tips on beating the winter blues. I never knew it actually had a name associated with it, but apparently “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)” can be a problem for many people. In fact, it can hit people who already struggle with depression even harder. The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to lessen the effects. Here are five to get you started:
Get More Light
SAD is mostly caused by dips in the levels of hormones that are sensitive to light. Light helps us produce some important vitamins, triggers activity in parts of the brain that affect mood and may even affect serotonin levels. In winter, shorter days result in many people leaving and returning home from work in the dark, which isn’t good for anybody. As little as 15-30 minutes a day of sunlight can reduce the symptoms of SAD, and it helps even more if you can get your sunshine at around the same time every day. Make a point of going outdoors during your lunch break, and see if it helps.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Studies have shown that people who suffer from seasonal depression often drink more during the winter, as well. It’s theorized that this is an attempt to self-medicate. You’re looking instinctively for something to make you feel better. But alcohol is a mild depressant. It doesn’t relieve symptoms of SAD; it’s more likely to worsen them. While you may enjoy a drink now and then, make sure you’re counterbalancing it with the other ideas on this list, and if your symptoms take a turn for the worse, cut back on alcohol consumption.
Fight Back with Nutrition
Did you know that your body doesn’t store Vitamin D? This is a problem because low Vitamin D levels are linked to seasonal depression. That’s because the best way to produce Vitamin D is through your skin. In the summer that’s easy to do because you’re out in the sun and wearing less clothing. In the winter, however, a Vitamin D deficit can leave you feeling low. Taking Vitamin D-3 orally can really help with this problem. Omega-3 deficiency can also affect your mood, as can a lack of Vitamin B. If you don’t tend to eat a lot of dairy, a B-12 supplement may be in order. You can also eat foods rich in these nutrients.
Believe it or not, physical activity can be as effective as a low dose of antidepressants. Exercise boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, both of which are important for combatting SAD. So, now when I suggest taking a romantic walk with your spouse, or exercising as a family, you’ve got one more reason to do it!
Get a Second Opinion
While we’ve got a good basic list here of things you can do to combat normal seasonal blues, for some of us, these changes won’t be enough to make a serious dent in the problem. If you already do the things on this list and you still feel like you’re constantly swimming upstream or your spouse says you don’t seem like yourself, don’t try to push forward alone. Treat this like you would if you were feeling under the weather in any other way, and see your doctor.
SAD is very common, so it’s important to keep an eye out for it. I hope the suggestions provided above will help counteract it and get you the help you need. We only have 53 more days until spring, so be smart and stay healthy.
Remember to submit your Love Challenge example as soon as possible. I look forward to hearing from you.
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