Even if you don't suffer from seasonal affective disorder, the Rogue Valley's long, gray and dreary winter can leave a person feeling pent up and frustrated.
Spring is almost here, according to the calendar, but early spring can be quite gray around here, making it seem like blue skies will never arrive soon enough. Here are some tips to stay "up" and balanced while waiting for the sun to once again take control of the skies.
It's a stubborn person who can't find something to do in the Rogue Valley where the weather, communities and agencies provide plenty of recreational opportunities — even in winter.
"Our motto is 'There's no reason to be bored in Medford,' " says Rich Rosenthal, recreation superintendent for the city of Medford. "Our responsibility here is to make sure there are activities available to people of all ages."
Find a great fit for you and your family in the Medford Parks & Recreation's "Community Connection." This free, 48-page guide to recreational programs is mailed to 37,000 addresses and is available at grocery stores and other retail outlets.
Areas of emphasis are enrichment programs for children and adults. Health and fitness classes are very popular, offering options from indoor soccer to the state's only year-round adult softball league.
Adults looking to expand their skills might take classes in wood carving, grilling, dancing, music, sustainability, landscaping, gardening or financial planning.
Youth programs include ballet classes, sports leagues and an after-school youth activities center.
"Community Connection" also features family-friendly special events, such as an annual daddy-daughter dinner dance, mother-son bowling nights, day trips and tours.
The winter/spring issue is on the streets through April, when the summer recreation guide is published.
Exercise outside when you can and indoors when you must.
"Find activities that are fun, like dancing, if you like fun," says Dr. Shandor Weiss, founder of Arura Clinic of Natural Medicine in Ashland. "If you prefer work, find things to do that are physically active and productive."
Stroke the spirit
Meditate and/or do yoga, tai chi, deep-breathing exercises or other calming and rejuvenating activities.
Take vitamin D
Most people don't get enough of this hormone, which every cell in the body needs.
"If you get it through sun exposure or tanning booths, you are getting too much ultraviolet for your skin," says Weiss, who recommends 2,000 to 5,000 international units a day as a supplement.
Brighten it up
It's not uncommon to experience mood shifts, fatigue, depressed immunity, changes in diet to compensate for the season's lack of light and other symptoms during winter.
"Keep lights on in the home or workplace, especially wherever one spends much time, like the bathroom in the morning, the kitchen or the living room," recommends Weiss.
"Full-spectrum halogen bulbs are the closest to natural sunlight; fluorescent lights have poor light qualities and also emit potentially harmful electromagnetic fields."
Lights that shine down on your face, not directly in it, are the most effective.
Take a detour from stress
Avoiding situations, people or events that make you uncomfortable can reduce imbalance. On the other hand, Weiss says, "maintain good social relations by not isolating yourself from friends who make you feel good."
"The winter months while it's raining outside are a great time to think about creative expression and trying things that may become a hobby," says Rich Rosenthal, recreation superintendent for the City of Medford. "Look for classes in quilting or watercolor. Or figure out what all those symbols are on that digital camera, so that come summertime, when it's sunny outside, you know how to use it."
Find like-minded folks and have fun, too, by learning how to dance the West Coast swing or trying your tongue at a foreign language.
"What better time to enrich your lifestyle and meet other people, too?" asks Rosenthal.
Look forward to something
Being involved in a class, volunteering or attending a special event will give you and your family a focus and something to plan for.
Good-quality, organic chocolate and coffee will help you feel perkier.
"These are actually health foods, if you tolerate them," Weiss explains. "They stimulate the brain and help to compensate for the darker days and slower energy of winter. In moderation they are beneficial."
On those days when nothing seems to brighten your mood, fake it 'til you make it. Be kind to your spouse and children, paste a smile on your face and take it an hour at a time. And remember — it will soon be sunny.