Seasonal Affect Disorder
Daylight savings time has hit and now for most of us…night comes too soon. Yes its lovely not to wake up to darkness but its also hard to get out of work and for it to be pitch black as well. I normally get off shift at 5:30 pm and it being pitch black prevents some very real logistical challenges to my training schedule.
Luckily I have never really had to worry about Season Affect Disorder. It doesn’t surprise me like it seems to some people and I still try and do everything that I have to do. Maybe it’s from years of working in the dark in the resutrant industry. Maybe because I was a night owl in my youth, I know how to get around that “Cant do anything in the dark” feeling. But I know that SAD is a real thing that cuts into some peoples lives this time of year. You can start feeling depressed, unmodivated, grouchy to those around you, ill, sleep can suffer and weight gain might occur. Your energy can fall and you get moody with those around you.
The effects of SAD is still unknown but it has been linked to people with Bipolar depression or a family history of it, meletonin levels and seritonine levels.
While its easy to brush these feelings off and simply call it the “winter blues” SAD is something that should not be taken lightly and can often be something that steps need to be taken for your to manage.
While there are medications that can be proscribed, for those of us who can, there are basic things that we can do to combat SAD and its symptoms in the darkest months that are here or about to come, most of all if you, like I now do, live farther away from the equator.
Light/ Light Therapy
Light boxes are….interesting and even though I don’t have hard effects I would most certainly try one and there is one that I am eyeing on Amazon. Basically the point is to sit in front but not directly in front of a bright light to mimic sunlight for the first hour that you are away. The research shows that this can change the way that your brain chemistry works through out the rest of the day.
The point is that natural light is good. Make sure that your space has as much natural light as you possibly can and refrain from keeping you blinds closed.
Mind/ Body Connection
I would recommend this anyway but the things that help with your mind body connection will always help with any sort of depression like symtoms to a various degrees. Meditation, yoga, music or art therapy and guided imagry are great ways to start and are easily avaliable now in apps.
I am a big beleiver in the fact that sometimes you have to push til you make it. This can go for this type of year to the extreme. Just because its dark out doesn’t mean you should go home and take off your pants right away. Try and keep your schedule, even if that means going to the gym when you might not want to right away.
Start a Project
This is the best time of year to start a project…at least to me, Yes I know that it might not seem like it with the holidays. But it doesn’t have to be a huge project. It can be something as simple as working on a painting, picking something new to focus on at the gym or picking a new book. Either way it gives you something to go and something to stimulate your mind.
Experiment With What You Eat/ Drink
Eating with the seasons was all the rage a few years ago. It’s actually kind of sad that it has fallen off the wellness spotlight. But this is something that can really raise your mood and your connection to your environment during the seasons. Try using seasonal foods in new dishes. Make a hot toddy with your friends as a drink instead of your typical cold drinks. Try for the crock pot, the slow cooker or just a simmering soup to influence your moods. Its something that you can do for big events or even just for you or you and your partner during a snow day.
Rethink Your Vacation
The reason why people pick vacations in the summer is typically because the kids aren’t in school and its easier to plan. For those of us without kids though…this might be a better time. Having something to look forward to in the middle of the dark months is motivating and amazing when you are laying on a beach in Mexico during the first week of December.
Of course if you really start to feel depressed, please see a mental health professional, most of all during these dark and usually a bit more stressful months.
Actually Leave Your House
Seems simple enough right? But its all too easy to get into the habit of just going home after work (See the section on scheduling). The good think about this time of year is that in spite of the short days, there are alot of events and holidays going on. Companies dont stop during winter. In fact most of them are trying really hard to get people out and about and into their doors. It makes it the perfect time to go to a breweries new event, check out that art gallery opening or even just check your local pages for events. The one thing that you should not do is just sit in front of Netflix for days on end.
In spite of the fact that you can’t really do much during the seasons changing, you can influence your own mood during these darker months. What you think and how you decide to pull yourself up.
So no, maybe you can’t afford a vacation or get your kids out of school. Maybe you dont even want to drop 50 bucks on a light box because…well its still 50 dollars! But you can do most of these things.
Don’t let the season bring you down. Don’t even just survive the dark months of winter. You can thrive in them!