Kick the Winter Blues: Home Improvement Tips to Avoid Seasonal Depression

According to Medline Plus, depression affects more than 20 million Americans.

For many people, winter complicates the issue by bringing about yearly battles with Seasonal Depression (also referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD). A three decade-long study by the experts at News in Health, indicated that between one and 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from SAD, but there’s hope. Light therapy helps ease symptoms. Fellowship with other people also helps, as does behavioral changes. If you’ve been diagnosed with SAD, focus on staying social and take on a home improvement project to your channel your focus.

These three household projects will crank up your interaction with others, while allowing multiple benefits along the way:

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Placing the Control Within

Some time ago, I postulated that the locus of control for our lives is internal.

That might sound high fallutin’ and all, but it’s pretty simple; my take was that as long as we put control over what happens to us “out there” rather than squarely within, nothing will ever change. We will remain where we are in our development.

I state that without judgment, just pointing out a fact.

Delicious lasagne

For example, it may be true that Aunt Margaret is pushing the deep-dish lasagna she made “just for you” like a pasta addict enabler. Equally true is she gets offended when you turn it down, and saying “no” to her home cooking causes a family rift. It might also be accurate that your husband is unsupportive when he sits next to you munching obliviously away on your favorite flavor of potato chips, while you’re stuck in a funk with celery sticks and carrots. Yes, you’ve told him a thousand times that you’d like him to not do that, and yes, you’re right, he doesn’t seem to care.

However… (don’t you just hate that word sometimes?) the decision about whether or not to succumb to temptation or pressure – as difficult as it might be – still lies within; nowhere else. In effect, it lives within. As long as we say things like, “She made me…” or “I had no choice…” or “It was too hard…” we are committing to stay put.

I’ve seen Aunt Margaret when she’s ticked off and I don’t blame anyone for avoiding a Hatfield-McCoy blow out. But, whether we’re trying to lose weight, increase our income, or just plain be happier; as long as we allow others to determine our actions, they’re controlling us. It’s understandable that sometimes the “social price” we have to pay to follow our path doesn’t justify the return. Again, I’m not placing value; been there, done that; I’m just analyzing.

So what prompted this rehash of a previous topic?

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Shaking Up My Thoughts

After the day’s folderol has wound down, it’s time to relax.

Lay on the couch please

Planted habitually on the left side of the couch, my wife places on herself an animal-print blanket she sewed, and the then places on said animal-print blanket three animals: two cats and a dog. I sit on the other side of the sofa and we watch TV, check out a movie, read, or – gasp! – possibly even talk to each other.

If you’re looking for wild parties, we’re not the go-to place. I’m not sure we ever were, but for a fact, I know we’re not now. We’re not exciting – and that’s the way we like it.

Recently, our pattern was most literally shaken up when the ground began trembling.

If you live in earthquake country, you know what comes next. If you don’t, there’s a mental and emotional checklist one goes through at the first inkling of a temblor.

1)    Look for others nearby and check their reactions to decide if you’re just dizzy or disoriented, or to get validation that the movement beneath your feet is actually happening.

2)    Determine if a large vehicle is rumbling down your street vibrating the entire neighborhood.

3)    Check to see if hanging objects are swinging.

4)    If indeed you are neither inebriated nor are tanks or eighteen-wheelers patrolling your street, and your favorite dangling knick-knack is making like a pendulum; then commence praying that this now verified earthquake will not be the “Big One.”

5)    Feel fear rise up in your throat. Decide if you’re heading for safety. Wait for quake to pass. Realize how powerless you are in the grasp of Mother Nature.

Steps one through four pass blindingly fast.

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Are You Lazy, Bad, or Sloppy?

You’re not “bad,” or “lazy” because you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.

However, you might indeed be “sloppy.”

sloppy-man

Let’s face it; we’re overly critical.

If – for example – we’re losing weight and we have a day of which we’re not proud, we say we were “bad,” or we “cheated,” or we beat ourselves up for being “lazy.”

We’re not lazy. We’re certainly not bad.

The reality is we’re busy, overloaded, and trying to do a whole lot.

Don’t label yourself for slip-ups. Rather, describe the error.

For example, wouldn’t it feel better, instead of saying, “I was bad today;” to say “I was ‘sloppy’ or ‘careless’”? One implies that you’re a person of lesser moral value. The other shows you’re human and you made a mistake.

You can correct a mistake a heck of a lot quicker than you can change your morals.

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Dealing with Complainers

They are numerous, ever-present, ubiquitous; present at work, parties, and even family gatherings.

complaining-man-ranting If attitude is indeed contagious, they are the Ebola virus of a positive outlook. Bringing their own “gloomy sunshine” wherever they go, they leave behind a trail of mental and emotional destruction wider than a hurricane’s wake. Should we discover the cure to all illnesses tomorrow, they would protest that it put the doctors out of business.

woman-rantingWe can tell they’re nearby, even before they open their mouths. Dour expressions firmly etched into grim-faced expressions and unconstrained bitterness dripping from their souls, they pummel, pound, and persist until they reveal the dark cloud behind any silver lining. Even after short encounters with these denizens of dourness, their dark energy can drain the happiness from even the most upbeat individual. They are Eyore to our Tigger, Ying to our Yang, frowns to our smiles; they are (insert ominous music…) the “bearers of badatude.”

Whether it’s due to the state of the world, the change in seasons, or just bad luck, they do seem to have multiplied lately. (Maybe it’s their mating season?) For whatever the reason, it seems more difficult to avoid them than it used to be.

Ever the helper — and in the interest of public service and a better community attitude — I offer a few suggestions on how to deal with complainers.

Rule One: Understand that when a freight train is roaring down the tracks at you, GET OUT OF THE FREAKIN’ WAY! Do not plant yourself firmly, attempting to block its path, expecting to convince it to take the switch. Instead, realize that batatude folks are better about plowing you over and dragging your formerly upbeat demeanor into a negative mood than you will ever be at changing their direction. They are professionals; having honed the dark art to a fine talent, they inflict bad attitude among even the most optimistic individuals. You — on the other hand — pale in experience when it comes to turning it around. It’s not a fair competition; don’t even try. You will lose. Move elsewhere; if not physically, then certainly to the happy place in your head.

Having not been able to circumnavigate Mister Miserable, the next step is to put it in perspective by employing the “Five Year Rule.”

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