It's the most wonderful time of the year -- right? Sort of. As we roll past Daylight Savings Time, I look forward to some extra vacation time, National Novel Writing Month, and the possibility of a white Christmas. (Wait -- white Christmas? Who am I kidding? This is Montana -- we nearly had a white Labor Day this year.) However, for a lot of people, myself included, winter sucks in a big way. As much as I enjoy snowy days and winter sports and seeing my own breath, I often find myself feeling down a much greater percentage of the time. Factor in an "autumn" like we had this year, where an early snow killed the glorious foliage change and turned everything frozen and brown far too close to October 1 for anyone's liking, and I'm hard up emotionally.
Why? It's SAD season -- seasonal affective disorder, or what many people refer to as the "winter blues." However, SAD is an actual condition, not simply a state of mind. As the weather turns cold and the sunlight grows weaker and more rare, folks with SAD experience the symptoms of depression. The thing about SAD that makes it unique from regular depression is that it goes away in the spring and early summer as that location on the earth receives more direct and more abundant sunlight and warmth. If every winter finds you experiencing the symptoms of depression (hopelessness, over sleeping, non-Thanksgiving related weight gain, lack of interest in activities/people, low energy, distraction, and feeling down regularly), you might have SAD.
Take heart, though -- not only are you not alone, but there are some simple things you can do to help yourself. Of course there are medications and really cool but really pricey light boxes that can alleviate SAD. However, try some simpler remedies first. Get outside, especially on sunny days but even on gray days. Take a walk, eat outdoors, shovel some snow -- any additional exposure to sunlight helps. Also be sure to exercise as that releases a feel-good chemical that can mitigate SAD. Don't forget to eat healthy and get lots of rest (yep, that's something I need to work on, seeing as I'm blogging at twenty minutes before midnight . . . oops). Yoga and other meditative forms of movement are also great helps. If none of that works, chat with your doctor.
As for me, I deal with depression year-round, so it simply gets worse come the fall and winter. I've been feeling the effects of the gray days lately, but yesterday's yucky morning blossomed into a glorious afternoon, so I took advantage. Instead of driving, I walked to and from an appointment. Yep, that's not time-efficient. Since I had the time, though, I went for it. Was it worth it? I'll let you decide -- look at what I got to revel in! (Check out the snow on the mountains. We got even more today!)
SAD, you can kiss my bottom.