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Winter Blues and You

When it is cold outside and you are “cooped-up” inside, have you experienced the “winter blues”?

Nashville, Ark. – When it is cold outside and you are “cooped-up” inside, have you experienced the “winter blues”? You may have thought it was all in your head; however, the “winter blues” is actually a mild depression brought on by a decrease in exposure to sunlight as autumn deepens. In fact, 14% of Americans say they suffer from the winter blues.

            Although the winter blues are not as severe as long-term depression, they can change the way a person thinks, reacts, and deals with everyday challenges. Here are some signs to look for. If you experience two or more of the following symptoms each year in the fall and into the spring you may suffer from the winter blues:

  • Increased feelings of lethargy. You feel like you can’t get going, not only in the morning, but throughout the day.
  • Difficulties waking up in the mornings as the days get shorter.
  • Difficulty concentrating and thinking creatively in comparison to the summer months.
  • Incorrectly blaming oneself for things that go wrong.
  • Difficulty performing tasks that normally seem to be easy or enjoyable.
  • Increased craving for carbohydrate-rich foods like chocolate and sodas.

There is no known way to prevent the development of winter blues; however, there are steps you can take to manage symptoms and keep them from getting worse over time.

  • Exercise outside. Especially when the weather permits. Exercise can be a walk through the park. Even light yard work is exercise.
  • Eat larger portions of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are whole grain products like whole wheat bread, pasta and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.
  • Resist unhealthy snacks. Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain crackers, cheese cubes, yogurt and nuts make great healthy snacks.
  • Limit oversleeping. Do not depend on afternoon naps each day.
  • Set a regular bedtime and stick to it.
  • Wake up at the same time each day. In fact, try getting up at the same time every day instead of sleeping in late on the weekends.

For more information on depression or winter blues, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or check out my Facebook page at You can also visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

Here is some great comfort food during the winter months. This recipe uses whole grain pasta and contains lots of fiber!

Pasta and Bean Soup

1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

2 (14 ½ oz.) cans chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup cooked whole wheat elbow macaroni

1 (16 oz.) can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Cilantro, chopped

Cheese, grated

            Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 20 minutes. Add the cooked macaroni, beans, and cilantro. Heat through. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve hot with crusty whole wheat bread, pita, or crackers.

Yields: 6 servings

Nutrition Information per serving: Calories – 216, Carbohydrates - 27 grams, Fat - 8 grams, Fiber – 4 grams, Protein – 11 grams.

*Nutrition Tip: Vegetable broth can be substituted in any recipe that calls for chicken or beef broth. If you are using bouillon cubes or powder, limit the sodium content by using only half as much as called for on the label and adding your own herbs and spices.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517

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