This time of year in many parts of the country, people begin to feel "down", listless and depressed. If you're in tune with your physical well-being and emotions, you may understand this phenomenon. If not, don't despair. There's nothing wrong with you.

You may be a victim of your environment. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a very real phenomenon. But you can fight it. 

SAD strikes whenever there are 3-4 days of dreary, gray days with the sun nowhere to be found – usually in the winter months and invariably in February and March when Chicago weather is at its worst . At these times you may find that you have significantly less energy and your emotions may be on edge. You may feel depressed or trapped. You may simply want to shut out everyone and everything.

I discovered this when I moved back to Chicago after living in New Mexico and Arizona for a number of years. At first I didn't understand what it was. Winter had not been a serious problem in the Southwest. In that part of the country, the sun is abundant.  Snow storms in Gallup (which sits atop the continental divide) could be every bit as challenging as you'd find in Chicago. But even even at its worst, Gallup enjoys at very least some sunshine approximately 76% of the time, unlike Chicago which can count on enjoying some sun closer to 45% of the time.

Less sunshine and less inviting environment leads to changes in our physical well-being, pure and simple. We eat different, we exercise different and we feel different. But we can fight back when we understand what's happening.

Here are just a few things you can do to get past the blahs:

1. Find a way to work near a window. Yes, you'll be exposed to the gloom outside, but you'll be connected with the outside environment. I've found that the worst thing I can do is shut myself off from the outside during these times.

2. Incorporate plants into your decor. Vibrant colored flowers, and lush greenery do wonders for morale. And, they are outstanding when it comes to understanding the environmental conditions that foster good mental health, things like light and humidity.

3. Think about getting a grow-light for your plants and yourself.. Fluorescents and LEDs work well, and so do the newest energy saving bulbs. There's a wide range to choose from. I look for those that approximate the blue-light spectra that mimic the sun's rays.But, just as plants have different requirements for light, so do people. You may want to try lights that output more red-orange spectra.

4. Incorporate music and into your daily routine. Classic, up-beat and music that incorporates the sounds of waterfalls and singing birds are my favorites.

5. Eat more high protein foods, in smaller quantities and more often throughout the day.

6. Find a way to exercise, especially early in the morning. If the weather is such that biking or walking outside isn't practical, then do something else. Get yourself to an indoor mall, or do push ups and stretches at home.  

But more than anything, remember, what you're feeling is the result of your environment. And you can control that.  

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