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Ways to Beat Those Winter Doldrums

by Vince Pellegrino
Wednesday Feb 1, 2012
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At this time of the year, following all the holiday festivities and New Year’s resolutions, most of us who aren’t skiers start thinking of springtime. Cold weather, darker days, early nights, and dressing in layers does not often connote happiness and joy for most of us as the warmer weather does.

The media continually inundate us with advertisements of beautiful vacation destinations of warmer climates with bikini clad men and women drinking cold beers and Pina Coladas. These ads are purposefully designed to make us yearn to escape from the cold and flock down south like the birds.

As for us gay lads, dances on the beach, sipping cocktails, and getting that perfect tan (or man) flood the minds of many of us as we shiver in the cold and wind.

Now we all know that there are less expensive means to lessen any seasonal depression by buying a sun lamp or even choosing not to live in a dark apartment by turning on the lights. And yes, I know that we all need to economize but, isn’t your mental health worth a couple extra dollars? In fact, the Internet abounds with websites selling light boxes, so check them out.

If your depression is not just seasonal, then please contact a licensed therapist and get more professional help through counseling and if needed, medication. But for the majority of those feeling a little "down" due to the cold weather, there are still some inexpensive deals that allow us to travel to those warmer climates providing that "quick fix" on warming up your body and mind.

According to gay travel agent Aldis Alexander, the most popular and economical travel destinations for the GLBT community on a budget would most definitely be Florida - especially Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach. "There about 30 gay guest houses in both cities which offer more surprisingly reasonable deals even during peak season with good airfare prices if booked earlier in the year."

So despite the fact that there are men such as myself who love to ski and want a few good snowfalls, there are considerably more of us who have appreciated the less-than-severe winter weather we have enjoyed thus far. But who wants to depend on effects of global warming to get that emotional lift in our spirits?

Other more reasonably effective means toward reducing mild or seasonal depression is to join a gym, take a yoga class or simply get that occasional massage. In fact, any type of relaxation therapy will help toward raising your spirits; even listening to meditative music or instruction available at yoga centers or meditation center. Some centers even offering free introductory classes (or with a small donation).

Jean Lawrence writes in Medicine.net to be careful not to gain added weight during these dark days when we begin to crave chocolate and other sweets in order to elevate our mood. "The lack of light can result in lower levels of serotonin, the mood-enhancing chemical that regulates hunger and the feeling of well-being."

According to nutritionists Julia Ross in the above article, "Eat wisely. This means pushing away leftover cake and eating sensible carbohydrates to stimulate serotonin." Such sensible carbohydrates include brown rice, fruits and vegetables - and try to limit your consumption of caffeine, which reduces serotonin levels.

We all need to take stock of why we may be feeling a little "blue" and find more effective and healthier ways to reduce our mood swings. First, by taking a quick trip down South; second, by spending more time in brighter light; third, taking a yoga class or otherwise exercising; and fourth, by eating more fruits and veggies.

Dr. Vince Pellegrino has PhDs in educational theater and drama therapy from New York University and is a board-certified psychotherapist in New York City and Connecticut. He teaches communications at Hofstra University. He is currently working on a book, "Gay Communication Game," about "Gayspeak"; an interactive TV program featuring real-time therapy sessions in development. Go to Dr. Vince TV for more information.

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