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Worth & Soul of Words
A newsletter by Ken Baker,
author for young readers
January 2024

How to overcome winter blues and discover winter joy

Polar bear with winter blues.

Did you know?

Best ways to beat winter blues

The sun sets sooner. The days get colder. And the gloom of winter makes you feel down, irritable, and moody. All you want to do is bundle up indoors and try to stay warmer. Almost 40% of people in the U.S. experience this declining mood often called the winter blues, as well as more serious symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).1 While you should seek medical help if you think you have SADs, you can often beat the winter blues by engaging in activities that activate what some call your happy hormones.2

  • Bundle up with some new favorite books — in addition to providing many other mental health benefits, the excitement, intrigue, laughter, or tearful emotions that come from reading, release endorphins—a powerful feel‐good hormone.3
  • Soak up as much sun as you can — Even when it's cold outside, if the sun is shining, go outside and enjoy it. Exposure to sunlight can release Serotonin, another happy hormone.4
  • Stay active — Go for a run or walk outside. Do some indoor workouts. Shovel snow off someone's driveway. Go hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing. Exercise can release Serotonins, Endorphins, and Dopamine.5
  • Visit friends and family — Social activities can energize and lift your mood as it boosts your Serotonin and Oxytocin (the loving hormone) levels.6,7
  • Try light therapy — While not a perfect substitute for sunshine, spending 30-45 minutes every morning in front of a 10,000 lux light can help with both the winter blues and SADs with its influence on your Serotonin reserves.8
  • Eat healthy — Some studies suggest foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids can have a positive impact on mood regulation by helping with Serotonin and Dopamine levels.9 Fruits and vegetables help regulate blood sugar levels, which can help sustain positive moods and energy levels.10 Emerging research on the gut-brain connection suggest that diets rich in in fiber, prebiotics and probiotics might have a positive influence on your moods and cognition.11

So don't let the winter blues knock you down. Take action to be happier no matter how dreary the weather seems to be.

The Colors of Winter

Cover art by by Amber Ren


Shout out! - Books on winter's joys

My good friend and fellow children's author, Danna Smith knows all about the difficulties in finding the positives in the winter season. In her own words, that's one of the reasons she's written multiple books about the joys of winter.

" I spend a lot of time outdoors in spring, summer, and fall. I admit it takes a lot of effort to find joy when it's too cold to spend much time in nature. So why, as an author, do I write about winter?"

Danna answers," In my Little Golden Book, The Colors of Winter, a little girl finds joy and comfort when she spends time with her grandma. In my book, Arctic White, I write a bit further about how a young girl living in the Arctic who only sees white uses color as a metaphor for hope."

 What better books to help children overcome their own winter blues.
Arctic White

Cover art by Lee White

Book business and life

As my oldest grandson used to say, "I doo'd it!" Translation—I did it! I sent out my latest YA fantasy draft to my alpha readers. I'm anxious to hear what they have to say, so I can get moving on fixing any characters, flow, and plot problems, as well as simply turning it into an awesome story. The rework on my epic fantasy continues on slowly. If you want to get a visual feel for that one, check out my Pinterest Inspiration board.

Ice and snow hiking

Heart image by Ken Baker

What I love - Enjoying winter's beauties with my wife

What do I love? Simple answer. I love spending time with my wife. In the winter, that sometimes means hiking in our snow-covered mountains. Of course, she's out hiking a couple of times a week.

A few Saturdays ago, we went out together. It was amazingly beautiful and invigorating. And I managed to stay up with her. Phew! Of course, she did slow down her pace for me a little. Anyway, being in the outdoors under the winter sun on a beautiful mountain with my beautiful wife is one sure way for me to beat the winter blues.


Keep beating those winter blues and be sure to share this newsletter with your friends.

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Thank you

Thank You image by Ken Baker

Special thanks to Danna Smith for her willingness to contribute to this month's newsletter!

1. & 8 "Seasonal Affective Disorder," National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 2023, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder.
2., 4, 5, & 7. "Beat the Seasonal Blues by Boosting Your Brain's Happy Hormones," Wounded Warrior Project, newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/Beat-the-Seasonal-Blues-by-Boosting-Your-Brains-Happy-Hormones
3. Paul Wright, MD, "A must-read: Physical and mental health benefits of reading books," Nuvance Health, October 2023, www.nuvancehealth.org/health-tips-and-news/physical-and-mental-health-benefits-of-reading-books
6. Stephanie H. Felgoise, PhD, ABPP, "How to Beat the Winter Blues," Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), December 2022, www.pcom.edu/psychology/news/beating-the-winter-blues.html
9. Giuseppe Grosso, "Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression: Scientific Evidence and Biological Mechanisms," Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, March 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976923/
10. Jessica Migala, "8 Foods That Help Lower Blood Sugar," EatingWell, November 2022, www.eatingwell.com/article/7833638/foods-to-keep-blood-sugar-in-check.
11. Jermey Appleton, "The Gut‐Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health," Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal “IMCJ), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6469458/.

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How to Care for Your T-Rex
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Old MacDonald had a Dragon
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Cow Can't Sleep
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Picture book collection

Copyright 2001-2023 by Ken Baker

How to Care for your T-Rex pictures by Dave Coverly
Old MacDonald had a Dragon pictures by Christopher Santoro
Brave Little Monster pictures by Geoffrey Hayes
Cow Can't Sleep pictures by Steve Gray