5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

All cooped up because your kid's got the croup? The daily rigors of parenting can be taxing any time of year, but it's really hard to get your energy up - and keep it up - when you're feeling beat down by the winter blues. The "winter blues" involve Seasonal Affective Disorder-like symptoms, brought on by chemicals in your brain reacting to a lack of sunlight. But in lieu of drowning your sorrows in caffeine, we've got 10 pharm-free ways to lift your spirits and put a little spring in your step - before the spring equinox!

Beat those winter blues!Beat those winter blues!
Dress on the bright side
When you dress for the day, avoid colors as dark and gloomy as the skies. Instead, reach for clothing in yellow and white hues, like this sweater from Ann Taylor. Bright colors reflect light and send your brain a message to levels of serotonin (a feel-good brain chemical), so your outlook brightens too!

Related: 10 surprising benefits of taking a walk

Beat those winter blues!Beat those winter blues!
Freshen up
When temps rise above "Arctic freeze" to "tolerable cold," crack open a window after it rains or snows. It won't just freshen the air in the room; it might refresh your perspective, as well. Scientists recently found proof that increased exposure to negative ions in the air (present after precipitation) can help relieve symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Beat those winter blues!Beat those winter blues!
Catch your Zs
Busy moms see sleep as the ultimate treat all year long, but few of us actually catch the Zs we need to keep our brain chemicals in check - and this deprivation can exacerbate the winter blues. By clocking in some solid sack time (7-9 hours is typically needed for adults), you'll keep the production of serotonin (an energy-boosting chemical for the day) and melatonin (a sleep-inducing chemical for night) balanced in your brain. Just beware: Oversleeping is a common symptom of SAD and can worsen your winter blues.

Related: 6 ways to increase hydration

Beat those winter blues!Beat those winter blues!
Laugh it off
Bummed about nursing your kid through yet another nasty winter cold? When it's finally your turn to monopolize the boob tube, forsake your favorite soap and switch on the slapstick instead. Laughter is the best medicine for good reason! Scientists say the physical act of laughter releases endorphins - the brain chemicals that make you happy. (Though if you want a little drama and laughter, we recommend any of the Real Housewives shows.)

Beat those winter blues!Beat those winter blues!
Get physical
During these cold months when you're all stuck indoors, doing laps around the breakfast bar for exercise gets old quick. Working out doesn't have to feel like WORK, and you don't have to join a gym. Doctor permitting, bust out a yoga DVD or commandeer your kid's Wii, plug in a fun workout game, like Just Dance 3, and sweat it out to rev up those feel-good endorphins.

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