Seasonal Affective Disorder is more than just the winter time blues. In a nutshell, the lack of light during the fall and winter causes a decreased production in serotonin, which makes you more likely to be depressed, increases melatonin that makes you want to sleep more and also lowers your body temperature. (Which I now know is the reason my temperature had been 97° the past couple of months.) Research at the Mayo Clinic indicate that both males and females can be affected by this disorder and while females are more likely to have it, men seem to suffer more severly from it. All in all, it just makes you feel like crap. This is the first year I’ve had it in a long time and I’m happy to say I’m feeling much better these days.
I know I’m not the only one that feels this way during these months, so I have a few tips to share with you, that may make you feel better. Some of you have a lot more winter left than I do and maybe you can benefit from what helped me. If you have or are suffering from S.A.D. I highly recommend that you click the link above and read more about it. I guarantee you will learn something you didn’t know.
I think when we are at our lowest; our perception of our environment is completely different from what others around us see. We live in a world where we only see the early darkness and everything is brown and gray. It doesn’t have to be like that, but you have to work at it daily until it passes.
That being the case let’s get started.
1) Get motivated. If the weather will allow it, bundle up and go outside for a little while. If you can’t find a weed to pull or a section of lawn to rake, then just walk around the yard and see if there is something interesting to see. Maybe, you will notice that there is a little more color out there than you originally thought.
2) So it’s too cold outside? Maybe you are like Joy and it is -17° where you are. Bring the outside in. If you didn’t plan ahead, somewhere in your town is a grocery store that has a floral section in it. Buy some live plants! Go to Wal-mart, Lowes, and Home Depot… somewhere you are going to find tiny pots of garden to stick in your house.
3) Make sure your house is well lit. In the daytime, open all the blinds and curtains, let the light in. If you have a lot of cloudy days, then be extra certain to take advantage of the sun when it comes out. In the evening, light every dark corner with some light. Use those lamps you have sitting around, they’re for more than decoration you know. If you are concerned about the electric bill use 25 or 30 watt bulbs. Every place that is visible to you should have light and the rooms you are in most often, lots of it. It may be artificial but at least it’s light. Darkness is a vexation to the spirit.
4) Get up and watch the sunrise. Scout you out a place to see the sun come over the horizon. If you have to get in your car and drive a mile to get there, that’s fine too. You are motivated and out of the house. As the sun starts to peek at you, take time to think about all the things that you are blessed with and give thanks for having them in your life. Live with an attitude of gratitude.
5) During the winter months you aren’t digging, pushing wheel barrows and all that labor you normally do in the garden. You need to exercise, for your health and the endorphins. It makes you feel good; I need to practice what I preach on this one.
6) If you feel really bad, go see your doctor. What are you waiting for? Why be miserable when you don’t have to be. There is no shame in taking medication for a few weeks to help you get thru it. Your quality of life is being diminished and you don’t get those wasted days back, they are gone forever.
7) Stay warm, nobody likes to be cold. Wrapping up in cozy throws when you are reading or watching television gives you that snuggly feeling that everyone loves. We were born from warm cozy places, it’s what we know from gestation and it is one of the first sensations we experience.
8) Eat comfort foods that warm you from the inside out. Remember, your core temperature could be lower than usual and this will help warm you up. Drink hot cocoa with marshmallows and/or drink your favorite herbal tea. Pamper yourself, you deserve it.
9) Fill your home with beautiful shiny things that reflect light and enjoy the rainbows you create.
10) Call old friends; make all those phone calls you couldn’t make when you were busy in the garden this past growing season. I like to fill a tub with hot, hot water and soak in it for 40 or 45 minutes while I chat on the phone. If you are metaphysical in belief toss some salt in there and leach out those negative feelings while you are chatting to someone you care about.
11) Talk to God, whoever you consider him or her to be. Tell him how you are feeling, ask that you learn any lesson that you are suppose to get from the experience and ask for the strength to see it thru. There is a divine intelligence and legions of angels or spirit guides to help you. But, I personally don't believe they interfere with your free will unless you ask for their help.
12) Bake bread, cookies and cakes. Fill your house with scents that remind of you of childhood and the treats that you would soon receive. Whatever you make for yourself, double the recipe to share with a friend or neighbor. It feels good to give and I promise you, it will make their day.
13) Working in nature is a spiritual thing; I don’t care who you are or what your religion may be. When you aren’t gardening your soul is missing the experience, it has been in your blood, since creation. Think about those last two words… Prepare yourself to be more connected when you re-enter your garden in the spring. The Celestine Prophecy has been a favorite book of mine for several years, but I actually enjoyed the movie more. Take a night with a friend and watch it.
14) Get a hobby that involves bright colors, preferably with gardening as the subject matter. It distracts you from your woes and makes you focus on something else. Plus, you get that same sense of pride from the completed project that you feel when you finish that new flower bed. It’s even better if you are learning something new.
15) Last but not least is what I crudely refer to as “garden porn”. Those garden magazines and seed catalogs are a wonderful thing. You can live vicariously thru the photos, all the time planning new spring and summer projects.
I realize this is a long post and if you are still reading, you are very dedicated or either suffering from S.A.D. yourself. Just remember, you may be unable to control the onset of the disorder, BUT you are in complete control of how you respond to it. Spring will be here before you know it, I have it on very good authority.
What? You are still here? Get off the computer and get motivated!