The changing seasons affect your family much more than you may realize. Shorter days, less daylight, and dreary weather impact physical and mental wellbeing. Simple changes in the way you manage your meals, home interior and daily activities will make this winter a healthier, more comfortable, and happier time for the entire family. 

Here are three very effective, low-cost ways to help your family beat the blahs, stay healthy and feel better this winter. Addressing both physical and emotional health, these simple and inexpensive ideas are powerful because they directly focus on the reasons winter can harm your family. 

Why Winter Is a Tough Time

Cold, dreary weather is tough on your body and mind. It's important to protect your family's physical health during winter because colder, wet weather and exposure can weaken your body's immune response.  Winter is also a time with more flu and cold germs around.  

Shorter days, less light, and gloomy weather; all ingredients in the recipe for the blahs. There's less spring in everyone's step, fewer smiling faces, and a general sense of just, blah! The scientific name for winter blahs is Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD. Symptoms include loss of appetite, general sadness, poor sleep, and tiredness. Some people experience feeling anxious or irritable. If you see these warning signs in yourself or family members, there are simple solutions available. 

Here are three effective tools for keeping your family healthy and free of the blues this winter. This year, fight the blahs with powerful technology, good nutritional resources, and activities to lift spirits and create cheer. Here's how to start.

Use Food, Fun, and Cheerful 

From ages past to today, wise mothers know that proper nutrition is a powerful weapon in the battle against winter ills and the blahs. Cold germs and viruses replicate easier cold weather, so maintaining a healthy immune system is key. Good lighting, wonderful food, and healthy activity elevate the mood and promote the release of endorphins.  

One: Celebrate Fresh

Make the most of seasonal winter vegetables and fruits. Keep fresh fruit on the table and add cut-up fruit and fresh vegetables to lunchboxes and the dinner table. Balanced nutrition, including healthy seasonal veggies, does not have to be boring. You have a wide range of tasty soups, stews, and casserole recipes waiting just a mouse click away. Get creative, maybe even engage the kids to help in preparing the food. You can ensure that meal time is healthy and memorable without spending hours in the kitchen.  

Two: Make Dinnertime a Special Event

Nearly everyone loves chili. Make it extra tasty and healthy by adding finely chopped carrots, diced bell pepper to the mix. They add extra nutrients while hiding nicely in the dish. Turn the meal into a fiesta by surrounding the pot of chili with tasty melted cheese made with small corn tortillas, nachos, and black bean refritos.  

This kind of meal is very flexible, so use your imagination. Find interesting new recipes to try. There are many chicken, turkey, and vegetarian alternatives, and hearty stew and soup recipes packed with healthy nutrition. The key factor is making dinner time interesting and fun and healthy.  

Your crock pot and instant pot cooker will be great time savers, here. Try different themes for different days. Have a build your own sub sandwich bar loaded with healthy breads, meats, sliced veggies, and cheese. Meatloaf is another great place to put some hidden nutrition and is a good option for working with your fussy eaters.  Just use your imagination; the entire family will benefit. 

Three: Fight the Blahs with Activity

Giving people something to look forward to is a great way to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Exercise, activities, and fun go a long way towards lifting the spirits. Family nights, light exercise and just trying to stay stimulated will go a long way towards beating the blahs. 

Get outside. Unless the weather is brutal, getting out is mood lifting even on cloudy days. Physical activity stimulates your body to release endorphins. These natural chemicals elevate mood and lessen sensitivity to pain. Exercise also stimulates the mind as you watch your surroundings during a walk.  

If the weather is too bad for a hike, visit a museum for a stroll or have fun at home with games like toss across or active gaming with dance or bowling with your Wii. Games of any kind are good for lifting spirits and getting the kids engaged. Lively games like Risk or Monopoly encourage critical thinking and strategy skills. Again, the point is being engaged to create healthy good feelings to overcome seasonal depressed feelings. 

Four: Fight the Gloom with Technology

Less daylight during the winter months is a problem. Battle the blahs with low-cost technology this year. Something as simple as changing the ‌light bulbs you use can have a big impact on your family's health and wellbeing. Here are two effective options to consider. 

White natural light from the sun enhances mood and provides a host of health benefits. Natural light combats seasonal depression, stimulates vitamin D production and promotes healthy sleep.  

If your windows don't let in enough natural sunlight, try installing daylight LED bulbs. Look for them in any local big box or hardware store for between $5 to $10. Another option is placing daylight simulating light therapy lamps around the house for greater impact. It's a good option but can be more expensive. Look for these lamps online and on Amazon. Prices range  from around $40 to $150.  

Seasonal depression is something you can do something about. This year, face it with a little ingenuity, wonderful food, and active family fun for smiles all round.