I have lived in Vermont all my life, and I love it. But as I get older, I find myself dreading the winters more and more. I don't want to move, but I also don't want to be miserable six months of the year. Is it possible to shake the winter blues?
Heat Seeker (nonbinary, 48)
Dear Heat Seeker,
It's odd to be answering this question on a 70-degree November day, but I won't make any jokes about global warming working in our favor. When winter finally does arrive in Vermont, it hits hard and can drag on for what feels like an eternity. The snow is magical and fun at first, but driving in it, shoveling it and paying big heating bills can take a toll on even the most seasoned Vermonter.
It's not unusual to occasionally feel down during the darker months, but if you're really not yourself, you could have more than just a case of the winter blues. It's possible that you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression linked to the change of season. Nobody knows the exact cause, but a major contributing factor is believed to be decreased sunlight. That can goof up your internal clock, which can disrupt levels of serotonin and melatonin in your body — and all those things can trigger depression.
Luckily, there are some easy ways to combat the issue. A great one is to get more vitamin D. Take a supplement, eat more mushrooms and egg yolks, and spend time in the sun whenever it makes an appearance. You may also benefit from using a light therapy lamp. Be sure to stay active and get enough sleep. If none of that helps, consult your doctor.
Beyond that: If you can afford it, get out of Dodge during whichever month you feel is the worst. February, maybe? You don't need to go on an expensive, exotic vacation. Even a short trip somewhere a little south can warm up your bones, and a change of scenery will put some pep in your step.
Good luck and God bless,