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If you feel depressed during the winter months, try these 4 things.

Seasonal depression is real. Here's how to deal with it.

If you feel depressed during the winter months, try these 4 things.

Have you ever noticed that winter-themed films tend to involve frolicking in the snow, ice-skating, and kissing your one true love while the snow falls in your hair?


Don't these people know about stretchy pants and Netflix? Photo via Robbie Dale/Flickr.

For a lot of us, winter actually looks more like leaving work after the sun has already set.

It looks like canceling plans because it’s easier to stay in bed, and trying to remember a time when the sky was any color but gray.

In fact, almost everyone I know gets the “winter blues” to some degree — feeling exhausted, sad, and checked out during the winter months. But for some people, those feelings can manifest into something even more extreme: an illness called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

Yay. Winter. Photo via Lucia Sánchez Donato/Flickr.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on the seasons.” For most people who have experienced this mood disorder, SAD starts in the fall and begins to let up in early spring.

Medical professionals think that reduced exposure to sunlight (basically, no vitamin D) is a major factor behind seasonal depression. When the sun is only out for a couple hours a day, your body and brain regulate emotions differently.

The good news is that some of the best ways to deal with the winter blues include tiny lifestyle changes that don't involve a prescription pad at all.

Here are four ways to kick SAD's ass and reclaim your winter.

1. Start using a light therapy box.

I started using this sun lamp for 30 to 45 minutes a day during my senior year in college, and it changed everything. The lamp blasts VERY bright light at your face until your body is convinced that it's not hibernating through the winter. It can be a little hard to adjust to the habit, but it has been proven to work fast.

Seriously, it works! Photo by me.

2. Sweat out the SAD.

Regular exercise is a cornerstone of physical health, but it can also make a huge difference with mental health, too. Getting physical encourages your brain to release all those good chemicals that elevate your mood.

3. Think positive.

This tip may sound annoying ("just be happier!!!"), but hear me out. In northern Norway, where some towns don't see the sun for months, seasonal depression is very rare — partly because Norwegians have different expectations for winter.

Instead of getting down in the dumps, they mindfully focus on the color, the coziness, and the beauty of those dark, cold months. So when winter's got you down, take a page out of their book: light candles, cook stews, drink hot chocolate, and get out your warmest blankets. A small shift in perspective could lead to huge results.

Doesn't seem so bad, does it? Photo from Samet Kilic/Flickr.

4. Make sure you have enough vitamin D.

According to Psychology Today, tons of studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression. A vitamin D supplement could help your body deal with winter's emotional lows.

These tips probably won't "cure" your seasonal sadness — only the Earth's slow rotation around the sun can do that.

But remember, you're not alone. Lots of us experience the winter blues, and it does get better.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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