TODAY   |  January 10, 2014

How to get through the winter blues

Now that the holidays are over and winter’s shorter days are upon us, Dr. Marianne Chai, a psychiatrist, walks KLG and Hoda through how to overcome feeling down during this low-energy time of year.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> as stressful as the holiday season might be and i'm still not over it, it gives us something to focus on and celebrate.

>> january comes and off all that shopping and cleaning and cooking and partying, there is nothing to plan for.

>> between that and long, dark days , dark, and long, it is no wonder many of us aren't fans of this time of the year. here to help turn those winter blues into a season of cheer, really, is psychiatrist mary ann chi. am i pronouncing it right?

>> absolutely right.

>> new york director for the medical center .

>> you hear anecdotally about people who suffer from this. we did this survey and our results said 82% said yes, they are affected by this type of year, only 18% said no. we're talking about a scientific thing.

>> a chemical thing?

>> there are a lot of factors that can contribute. you hit the nail on the head, the darker colder days of winter, longer days of winter. record-breaking cold days we're having, and shorter days of sunshine, so there is different phenomenon going on. there is serious depression, some people struggle with, maybe less seasonal, there is seasonal affect disorder.

>> which i have in spades.

>> and not surprisingly, so many people, particularly now, are saying, yes, i am feeling blue. i'm feeling the post holiday --

>> we started saying you need something to look forward to, you look forward to christmas, new year's and then long lull.

>> groundhog's day.

>> nothing going on. is that part of it?

>> absolutely part of it. there is also more isolation after the holidays. you have this blitzkrieg of holidays from october through early january, and a lot of people are really connected face to face . then they lose that. so it is really important to plan to be around people, to incorporate activities and things you can look forward to, where you are connecting real time , face to face with people around --

>> like the super bowl .

>> super bowl , valentine's day, or even simple things like starting a book club , having dinner parties once a month or even every few weeks, planning little trips, maybe places you wouldn't normally friends, really great ways to stay connected and have something to look forward to.

>> i found something as simple as putting fresh flowers in your house can lift your spirits.

>> little things .

>> this is the other important thing, on a day to day basis, what can you do to brighten that day, to bring the gloom of the outside not into your home.

>> what can we do, doctor? you're the psychiatrist.

>> i'm the psychiatrist. i think a hot bath is a great thing to do. the warming of the soul, gives you kind of a moment to treat yourself, it doesn't cost a whole lot of money, it is a simple activity, sometimes just making yourself a nice cup of hot tea and giving yourself that moment to step back and say this is where i am.

>> sometimes people need to pay attention to someone who has it worse than they do. whenever i'm in a funk, you can walk by someone on the street and go, oh, my god, it reminds you, kind of stop the whining portion of the program.

>> perspective. a whole lot of perspective. we lose that.

>> is some of it all wrapped up in all the expectations people have about the holidays.

>> absolutely.

>> why do we set ourselves up for failure like this? this is going to be the best christmas ever. i can't wait until new year's eve and then it is never what we concoct in our mind it to be.

>> anticipation and expectations can save you or kill you. a lot of it is about the attitude and post holidays, just forgive yourself. it's okay. maybe it didn't work out the way you wanted it to, but there is always the next holiday and what can you do to make things a little better right now.

>> is there any more room on your couch? i like you.

>> i feel better.

>> i don't feel the blues anymore.