Fight Those Winter Blues by J. Martino

Fight those winter time blues By John Martino “I am so ready for this to be over,” said Missy Morrow disgustingly, as she flicked off snow that had accumulated on her hooded jacket. Midwinter – that gray time between New Years and spring break when we are tempted to hibernate. With the holidays now in the rear view mirror, work, academic rigors and extra curricular activities reconvene full force. However, the afternoons are still short and often dreary and long winter nights can become tiresome without some respite from the mean routine. February is the shortest month of the year but sometimes feels like the longest. Enter the midwinter blues. But there are times and experiences that relax and rejuvenate and we shouldn’t blame winter for our depressing mood. It’s usually lack of vision and motivation that creates the bulk of the problems, not freezing temperatures and cloudy skies. Sure, there are some people who do become seriously afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during our coldest season. But for most, inexpensive natural remedies do exist and are easily accessible to everyone. One of the best ways to feel good during winter is to face what’s causing the problem and that’s to get outside. Yes the temperatures may be cold but by dressing in layers you can enjoy inclement weather and still remain comfortable. It has been scientifically proven that spending as little as 20 minutes outside everyday will help stave off seasonal depression. One of the easiest activities is to take a short walk. Moderate exercise is one of the best ways to combat winter funk. Even when the skies are a dismal gray, there is still enough light to fight that depressing attitude. No one knows this better than Cindy Hall, who can be found strolling the Wildcat Creek Walk of Excellence nearly every day during our coldest season. “I found that taking a daily walk during the winter helps keep my spirits up,” she explained. Another pleasurable and simple winter activity is to do nothing more than invite a few friends over and sit outside around a crackling bonfire. The sweet aroma of burning wood and the mesmerizing affect of dancing flames can hold the coldest of days at bay. Cooking food over an open fire, not to mention “smores” for the kids, is one of life’s simplest pleasures creating the warmest of memories. Fishing is another great winter activity that can make even the bleakest days enjoyable. Don’t think that means strictly ice fishing. Tailwaters located below any of central Indiana’s lakes and reservoirs remain ice free and can provide great fishing opportunities for walleye, smallmouth bass, catfish and crappies. Disc golf is another outdoor activity that is rapidly gaining in popularity and can be enjoyed throughout the year. Courses are available in Howard and almost all neighboring counties. Highland Park in Kokomo sports an 18-hole disc golf course that is free and available year round. If you were fortunate in receiving a new firearm for Christmas, now is one of the best times to hone your shooting skills. The Howard County Izaak Walton League located at 2629 South, County Road 200 East offers shooting ranges of all types. In addition to their rifle range, guests also have the opportunity to take advantage of the club’s skeet, trap and sporting clays courses. These ranges are open to the public during certain days and can be obtained by giving them a call. If you’re still not overly enamored with the thought of going outside when the temps rest below freezing there is another option and it’s as simple as opening your blinds. Researchers have found just looking out a window onto natural, outdoorsy landscapes can reduce blood pressure and other markers of stress. More remarkably, a study done in China found that older people who lived near open, green spaces had longer telomeres, a portion of the DNA strand that often shortens and frays with age. In simpler terms, they had younger cells. In reality, the “dead” of winter may actually be “alive” with outdoor activities - all you have to do is motivate yourself. As someone once told me, “A person only gets so many sunrises.” Of course that statement applies to everything – hugs, good friends and even root canals. We are all mortal and run along a finite stretch of time on earth. I think too many times we try to hurry through each day or week without realizing each one is numbered. So, no matter what the season, try to stretch them out and enjoy each and every one, even if it is still winter!