Coping with the winter blahs

Some contend that the third Monday in January is “Blue Monday,” the most-depressing day of the year. (Thinkstock)
Fewer fries, more veggies For those of you who made that resolution to lose weight, this is a no-brainer. One nutritionist calls for the return of “traditional foods” in place of the processed sugars and oils that are all too common on grocery store shelves. Cutting out red meat is another way to drop pounds, as it has been linked to lower risk of colorectal cancer. Happycow.net is just one of several good online resources for vegetarian and vegan recipes. It’s also a good site for finding vegetarian restaurants in the area. (WTOP/Kelley Vlahos)
Beautiful young lady sitting in front of her full-spectrum light. Light therapy which strikes the retina of the eyes is used to treat circadian rhythm disorders such as delayed sleep phase disorder and can also be used to treat seasonal affective disorder as well as to fight winter depression.
Light it up One over-the-counter method of treating seasonal affective disorder is light therapy. Using a light therapy box at work or at home can compensate for missing out on that rare winter daylight. (Thinkstock)
Close up of digital tablet screen while man working on it. Young businessman switching on tablet to start his work. Young man looking at a blank black screen of tablet.
Digital detox Set that iPad down for a little while. Advocates say it can lower anxiety and improve mindfulness. It’s OK. You won’t miss out on anything : Twitter, Facebook and WTOP.com aren’t going away. DISCLAIMER: As widely respected happiness experts, we caution that you should only do this after you’ve visited WTOP.com several times for the latest headlines, weather and traffic information.  (Thinkstock)
In this photo taken April 19, 2015,  people walk in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. A record number of U.S. tourists visited Washington last year.
The city’s tourism bureau, Destination DC, announced Tuesday, May 3, 2016, that the nation’s capital welcomed 19.3 million domestic visitors in 2015. That’s up one million from the 2014 total, and it shows the continuing strength of Washington’s tourism industry after the Great Recession. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Fun at the Smithsonian Even if you’ve seen the current exhibitions, there are still a wealth of things to see and do at the Smithsonian Institution. Check out an exhaustive database of exhibitions and events on the Smithsonian site. (AP/Andrew Hamik)
The audience watches the world premier of the Imax film "The Alps" at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, Wednesday, March 7, 2007. The film documents John Harlin III's ascent of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps 40 years after his father died on the same mountain. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
To the IMAX(s) Another attraction at the Smithsonian is, of course, its collection of IMAX theaters: the Samuel C. Johnson, the Lockheed Martin, the Airbus (in Chantilly), and the Einstein Planetarium. There is nothing wrong with streaming corgi videos on your iPad, of course, but a crazy-big screen can serve as a welcome change of scenery. Check out listings and order tickets on the Smithsonian’s site. (AP/Caleb Jones)
Catch the Caps The Washington Capitals are having a terrific season so far, holding their own against such NHL powerhouses as the Chicago Blackhawks and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. To paraphrase Dr. Hunter S. Thompson: Buy a ticket, and enjoy the ride. (AP/Nick Wass)
chihuahua dog relaxing  and lying, in   spa wellness center ,wearing a  bathrobe and funny sunglasses drinking a smoothie cocktail
Treat yourself at a spa Delicious cucumber water, that weird-yet-soothing new age music — how can you not feel better at a spa? There are several great ones in the area that offer facials and massages as well as the more exotic salt scrubs and reiki treatments. (Thinkstock)
Three cocktails in a row
Indulge with a cocktail If you’ve been 1) eating more kale and fewer carbs and 2) hitting the elliptical frequently since 2017 began, you have our permission. Martha Stewart has some interesting winter cocktail recipes if you’re not up for an imperial pint of stout. (Thinkstock)
Side view close up of young beautiful women looking away while running on treadmill at gym
Just exercise You can’t argue with science. A good mix of cardio and strength training not only contributes to wellness but also improves  your mental health and general mood — small pain, big gain.  (Thinkstock)
 Adopt a pet Misery loves company, right? Perhaps one of WTOP’s Pets of the Week are right for you. The Humane Rescue Alliance and DC PAWS Rescue have plenty of other four-legged pals who need a forever home. (Humane Rescue Alliance)
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Beautiful young lady sitting in front of her full-spectrum light. Light therapy which strikes the retina of the eyes is used to treat circadian rhythm disorders such as delayed sleep phase disorder and can also be used to treat seasonal affective disorder as well as to fight winter depression.
Close up of digital tablet screen while man working on it. Young businessman switching on tablet to start his work. Young man looking at a blank black screen of tablet.
In this photo taken April 19, 2015,  people walk in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. A record number of U.S. tourists visited Washington last year.
The city’s tourism bureau, Destination DC, announced Tuesday, May 3, 2016, that the nation’s capital welcomed 19.3 million domestic visitors in 2015. That’s up one million from the 2014 total, and it shows the continuing strength of Washington’s tourism industry after the Great Recession. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The audience watches the world premier of the Imax film "The Alps" at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, Wednesday, March 7, 2007. The film documents John Harlin III's ascent of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps 40 years after his father died on the same mountain. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
chihuahua dog relaxing  and lying, in   spa wellness center ,wearing a  bathrobe and funny sunglasses drinking a smoothie cocktail
Three cocktails in a row
Side view close up of young beautiful women looking away while running on treadmill at gym

WASHINGTON — Some contend that the third Monday in January is “Blue Monday,” the most-depressing day of the year.

While Snopes.com has written it off as an idea “mainly advanced by marketers and public relations firms,” there’s no doubt that the short days and low temperatures make this time of year more of a slog than, say, early May.

For some people, a dreary wintry mood might even be seasonal affective disorder, a type of treatable depression.

Whether you have SAD or just “the blues,” here are some things that can help you cope with cold-weather melancholy before those cherry blossoms bloom again.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

© 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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