If you suffer from any degree of “seasonal blues” or “seasonal affective disorder” or “SAD” then chances are you know that the early days of February can be some of the lowest or worst “mood days” of the year.
First, what is seasonal affective disorder?
The short answer is that SAD is a mild form of depression, of being down or suffering “the blues”. (See Mayo Clinic for detailed explanation.)
What are the signs of seasonal affective disorder?
Like most health issues involving the brain or mind there is great variation. Some more common elements may include crankiness, irritability (easier to anger), a sense of longing for something or wistfulness (summer, sun), lower vitality, less energy, a sense of lethargy or loss of strength. In some cases people may eat more, as if food were medication or a small moment of pleasure.
There are a variety of ways to treat or cope with SAD, including:
- Light therapy, using high intensity lighting at close proximity.
- Herbal remedies that may offer mild forms of anti-depressant effects
- Treatment with FDA approved medications
My home grown remedy for dealing with the winter blues has included
- A well timed winter vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands, San Diego, Miami, Austin TX, or other sunny location
- Home made light box using full spectrum fluorescent bulbs, which lights I sometimes use for helping to start seeds. (Guess we can all use a little more light.)
- Leaving up the Christmas decorations just a bit longer than others, as they tend to provide a cheery backdrop in dismal times
- Buying fresh cut flowers and “allowing” my wife to create a variety of floral arrangements placed around the house.
- Dark chocolate
- Going to bed earlier
- Yardwork on cold but sunny days
- Walks in the park on sunny days, wearing short sleeve shirts if the wind and cold is tolerable
- Working in a well lit, preferably by the sun, room.
The winter or seasonal blues can vary from year to year. I’m not sure why, as I haven’t made a study of if, but I’m fairly certain the amount of sun counts. This year, at least in the eastern USA, there has been a good bit of cloud cover. Also, I’m certain the stresses of life matter and, for many, there has been plenty of economic stress around this year.
So, throw everything you can think of at the seasonal blues. Most of what is good for fighting the blues is also good for your health.
And keep your eyes to the ground, looking for the first bulbs to start emerging, for it’s been my experience that as the bulbs start to rise up so do people’s spirits.
(And, yes, that IS a non-posed picture of a lowly stinkbug standing on a wooden window frame, looking out as the morning sun rises. All life longs for the return of the sun in the dark days of winter.)