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Berger’s Burg: Winter weather lowers moods, but spring just ‘round corner

Take Winter as you find him, and he turns out to be a thoroughly honest fellow, with no nonsense in him, and tolerating none in you, which is a great comfort in the long run. — James Russell Lowell

The end of winter is near. With 24 days left until spring officially springs in, we are coming into the homestretch of the winter funk. But do not pack away your bulky coats yet. We all know how March can torment you with bitter winds and slushy puddles on ever corner. Yes, sun and sandals may be in our near future, but right now we are struggling to shake that winter funk.

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. ... April is a promise that May is bound to keep. — Hal Borland

Approximately 10 million people in the United States suffer from winter funk or seasonal affective disorder. People affected by SAD have the sense of wanting to hibernate. Symptoms include decreased energy and sex drive, mood change, a craving for sweets, an increase in irritability, an avoidance of social situations and an inability to complete tasks.

Winter has been so cold that pizzerias changed to winter-weight oil, farmers milked their cows with ice picks, homeowners kept their thermostats at no more than $262 a day, polar bears were wearing grizzlies and college boys dated girls with high fevers.

Do these SAD symptoms sound familiar? To many people, they do. That is why I rounded up some quick fixes to snap them out of their winter funks.

Winter has been so cold that when I combed my hair outdoors, it broke; I wore out four pairs of boots and one pair of shoes; my cousin was wearing his toupee upside down; and Gloria’s overcoat began wearing sweaters.

SAD-sacks, lighten up because your funk is all about light. Sunlight is crucial to human health and it improves mood. But in winter, there is precious little sunshine. The first human being realized the importance of bringing the sun into his abode and did something about it. He built a fire in his dark cave not only for warmth, but also to enhance his mood, work performance and find his wife.

One way to overcome the SAD funk is for people to undergo “light” therapy. Did you know that there are products being sold especially geared for simulating light and brightening indoor surroundings, to make up for the lack of natural light in winter months? One such product gradually turns on a light while you sleep, making your body think it is experiencing the sunrise of summer.

The nicest thing about the promise of spring is that sooner or later she’ll have to keep it. — Mark Beltaire

Though there may be only a few hours of sunlight these days, it still exists and the more you see it the better. Natural sunlight helps increase levels of vitamin D and serotonin, which improves moods. Luckily, the many parks in Queens give you a reason to get out in the cold. This will open up the extraordinary natural settings around you and help restore the energy that long winter days sap away.

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night. — Hal Borland

SAD is also accompanied by a craving for sweets and carbohydrates. To fight the cravings, and subsequent weight gain, bundle up and break a sweat with a wintry sport like outdoor jogging, bike riding and brisk walks. If you would rather stay warm while you work out, Yoga is for you. It not only burns up to 400 calories per hour, but also has benefits that specifically target the winter funk by strengthening the immune system, releases endorphins, decreases depression and increases production.

Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great. — Niccolo Machiavelli

And finally, I suggest you add a little laughter in your life to lessen SAD. To help, let me relate a bit of summer humor:

Last summer was so hot I saw two trees chasing a dog, chickens were laying hard-boiled eggs and when you brought your store-bought steak home, it was well done.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. — Theodore Roosevelt

Last summer was so hot Madonna’s sex drive was in park, Lady Gaga lifted her skirt for other reasons, Angelina Jolie slept alone for one month and women complained summer made things droop years before they are supposed to.

It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out — it’s the grain of sand in your shoe. — Robert Service

So, readers, smile and remember: Spring is the SAD breaker and it is just around the corner.

Contact Alex Berger at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com.

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