Tag Archives: winter

10 Tips For Beating the Winter Blahs

Child in snow
Spring is just around the corner, but many of us are still dealing with the doldrums of winter. While there are lots of things to love about winter, it also means shorter days, less sunlight, colder weather, and more time stuck inside. This is a time of year when many people feel less energetic and possibly a little “blah.” Feeling like you might be in a bit of a winter slump? Here are ten ideas to help you conquer your winter woes.

1. Brighten your world! Winter’s lack of sunlight can cause many people to feel gloomy and sluggish. Get as much natural light as you can. Open the curtains, sit by the window, and enjoy a mood-lifting vitamin D boost from the sun. Decorating your home in light, cheery colors may also help to counteract the dreariness of winter.

2. Make quality zzz’s a priority. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule and getting the right amount of sleep can help you stay energized.

3. Get outside when you can. Being cooped up inside for too long can make anyone feel pretty blah. Bundle up and take an energizing walk in the cold!

4. Exercise! Exercising releases endorphins and helps to decrease stress and anxiety. It can also improve sleep and boost energy. Try a new sport or exercise class. If you’re snowed in, practice yoga, try some workout DVDs, or even have your own private dance party at home.

5. Pump up the jams! Speaking of dance parties, music can be an excellent way to lift spirits. There are tons of potential mental and physical benefits of both playing and listening to music.

6. Eat well. During cold winter months, it can sometimes be tempting to eat the same comfort foods over and over. However, eating a healthy, varied diet full of vitamins and nutrients can improve energy, mood, and overall health.

7. Plan a mini “vacation” and give yourself something to look forward to. This could mean going on an actual trip, but it can also be as simple as planning a special weekend activity close by.

8. Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you. Use your personal interests and skills to make the world a better place. In the process, you can connect to others, build self-esteem, and gain a sense of purpose.

9. Socialize, and not just on social media. Surround yourself with positive people. When you and your friends stick together, the winter blahs don’t stand a chance!

10. Treat yourself! Don’t forget to do something extra nice for yourself once in a while. You deserve it!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Janis Atty, MA, CCLS, ATR-BC, LCAT is a child life specialist and creative arts therapist at NYU Langone’s Fink Children’s Ambulatory Care Center, and is part of the Pediatric Celiac Disease and Gluten Related Disorders Program. She helps pediatric patients and their families understand and cope with medical illnesses and experiences. By providing education, preparation, emotional support, and guidance, she promotes positive development and well-being in patients facing a wide range of challenging life events.


How to Protect Your Child’s Skin This Winter

Litlte girl in a bathrobe and towel
After a balmy fall, winter is finally upon us. It’s time to unpack the mittens, hats, scarves, and sweaters. As parents, it’s also time for us to brush up on our negotiation skills and convince our children to actually wear their coats! The next time you find yourself in a heated discussion with your little one on the necessity and virtues of covering up, remember to protect his or her true primary barrier to the world: the skin.

Our skin takes a beating during the dry, cold winter months. Indoor heat without humidification can make skin prone to drying out. This is particularly true for children with atopic dermatitis (eczema) who tend to make less natural moisturizers and who are at risk for having more eczema flares during the winter.

Managing dry skin involves two guiding principles:

• Avoid irritants
• Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

With those two principles in mind let’s tackle some basic questions.

Do baths help or hurt dry skin?
Bathing can help hydrate your child’s skin. The most common problem is forgetting to apply a moisturizer which helps “seal in” moisture. Daily baths are fine. Just don’t overdo it—limit bath time to no more than 15 minutes.

What is the best soap to use?
Dry skin (and particularly the skin of eczema patients) can be very sensitive to irritants. Avoid using perfumed soaps and cleansers—although they smell wonderful, the added fragrances can be irritating. Look for fragrance free, gentle cleansers. If your child has eczema, you may also want to limit the application of the cleanser to visibly dirty areas and areas where dirt likes to hide, like the diaper region, under the neck, armpits, and groin.

How often should I use a moisturizer and which one should I choose?
The skin care aisles in drug stores are overstuffed with numerous products, each of which makes various claims of benefit for the skin.

Unfortunately, there have been no large head-to-head studies comparing all of the different moisturizer options to clearly declare one superior to the other. Therefore, the best moisturizer is the one you actually use! Moisturizers don’t do any good sitting on shelves. Here are a couple of useful tips:

• Avoid fragranced moisturizers if your child has sensitive skin.

• If your child has moderate to severe eczema, the greasier a moisturizer is, the better—ointments and thick creams tend to work best (think of something you have to scoop out of a jar). Apply it to the whole body morning and night.

• Lotions, which typically come in pump bottles, have less “sealant” properties and may irritate the skin of children with severe eczema.

• Try to make moisturizing part of the daily routine and fun. For infants, consider making it part of the bedtime routine and incorporate infant massage. In older children, consider letting them take charge and help them apply their own creams.

When should my child see his or her pediatrician or a dermatologist?
If your child’s dry skin has worsened and has areas of redness, itching, and/or a bumpy rash, he or she may have eczema. A doctor can be helpful in advising you on whether a prescription cream or ointment could be of benefit.

So this season, think of your child’s skin! It has been working hard all year and surely could benefit from tender loving care this winter.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Vikash S. Oza, MD, is an assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, where he serves as the director of Pediatric Dermatology. He is board certified in both pediatrics and dermatology and sees children of all ages with acute or chronic skin care conditions.


6 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Mother And Daughter Lying On Floor And Painting Picture
A seemingly never-ending season of frigid weather, biting winds, snow, ice, and sleet can get a person down. While some people suffer from a type of winter depression called seasonal affective disorder, it’s important to know that it’s normal to experience mood changes in response to certain situations or events. For example, staying indoors day after day can reasonably cause temporary irritability or crankiness in the most cheerful of children, teens, and adults.

Luckily winter is almost over, but if you need a little pick me up to get you through the remaining weeks and days, here are some tips to help you and your family deal with cabin fever and beat the winter blues:

Exercise. Research shows that exercise increases the brain’s supply of serotonin (a neurotransmitter linked to major depression and other mood disorders) and can help improve mood. There are plenty of ways to raise your heart rate indoors. Pick a fun exercise video to play with your kids or challenge the family to a tournament on Wii Sports. Play your favorite tunes and throw a dance party in your living room.

Schedule R&R. After getting active, designate a time for rest and relaxation. Listen to calming music or read a good book. If you and your family have experience with meditation, try some meditative breathing or visualization.

Have fun. Research also shows that engaging in fun or pleasurable activities can boost your mood. Create a list of fun activities your family can enjoy together, such as playing board games, doing arts and crafts projects, baking, or watching funny movies. Let each family member choose an activity from the list for the next rainy or snowy day.

Team up. While you can always enjoy activities on our own, joining with others can boost the fun. Plan a lunch or dinner party with your neighbors or your children’s friends.

Tackle your goals. Being productive and accomplishing goals can also elevate your mood. Take advantage of staying indoors by tackling projects you can’t usually fit into your schedule. Find a way to make chores fun for your family, such as adding rewards for participation.

Get outside when possible. Bundle up and take a brisk walk around the block for some fresh air and sunlight. Find indoor activities outside the home that you can walk or travel to safely. For example, go to a movie, the library, or a museum. Get a day pass to a local gym where your children can swim or play basketball. In addition to having fun, you and your kids will get a taste of spring through fun activities that will keep you going during the final days of winter!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Carrie Spindel Bashoff, PsyD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU Langone’s Child Study Center. Dr. Bashoff, who received her doctoral degree in psychology from Yeshiva University, is particularly experienced in treating children and adolescents with anxiety and depressive disorders.