Spring fever? Keeping ourselves and our children healthy and happy

Published 9:14 am Saturday, March 2, 2019

By Laura Marreel

Pacelli Dean of Students

This time of year is tough for many people.  We are stuck inside due to the cold, and our bodies miss out on that rich sunlight. According to a Healthline article medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP on May 25, 2018, “Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.”

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It is important for us to take extra steps during these winter months to keep ourselves and our children healthy and happy. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, children with depression may display these symptoms:

  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
  • Change in eating habits
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling worthless or restless
  • Frequent sadness or crying
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

When symptoms last for more than two weeks and interfere with regular daily activities and family and school life, your child may have a depressive disorder, and you should consult with your child’s doctor.

However, if these symptoms last for a short period of time, it may be a case of “the blues.” I meet weekly with small groups of middle school students. We talk about issues facing young people today and do activities to empower each other. I asked these students what they do in the winter to prevent the winter “blues.” These are their suggestions:

  • Play games with brothers and sisters
  • Spend more time with your family
  • Make forts outside with mom or dad
  • Listen to happy music
  • Build inside forts and have Nerf wars with brothers or sisters
  • Spend time with animals
  • Read a happy book
  • Watch inspiring movies with family and friends
  • Dance more
  • Plan your future
  • Have one on one time with mom or dad
  • Pamper yourself with hair, nails, and facemasks
  • Prayer, of course!

By the meteorological calendar, spring started on March 1. With the winter we have had, I think we probably have some time, yet, before we will see our “actual” spring. Try some of these activities to keep yourself and your children happy and healthy during these remaining winter days. Spring is right around the corner!

If you are interested in learning more about Pacelli Catholic School, visit our website at www.pacellischools.org, email admin@pacellischools.org or call 507-437-3278.

For more on the Healthline article referenced in this column go to: www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight