Hi everyone, how’s life? Are you enjoying the beauty of Autumn or are the darker mornings and evenings starting to get to you? Is it a bit of both? I understand that this part of the year can get a little rough for some of us, especially those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Even without SAD mood is still affected by the amount of light/lack thereof. It was cloudy and rainy the other day and my motivation was in the negatives. I felt so depressed, saw point in moving and just curled up on the couch under a comforter for hours.
For those of you who have been with me a while, perhaps you recall the mood therapy lamp Aaron bought me for Christmas. Despite not having SAD I was curious to see if there could still be benefits. Aaron is really sweet and he remembered my interest. I used it every day, usually during my morning class online. It can get pretty dark in my bedroom which, I don’t know about you, puts me into sleepy-lethargic mode. Not at all conducive for working!
Using the lamp every day did help me. Perhaps it wasn’t in the same way as for others, but I still benefited. I think that’s because EVERYONE benefits from light; we all need it and we all lack it in the darker months. My mind seemed sharper, I had better concentration, energy and motivation. I tend to feel worse emotionally between January and April but this time it went much more smoothly. I know it wasn’t just the lamp but I definitely think it was a contributing factor.
Some Info About Light Therapy
- Light therapy isn’t for everyone so always consult your doctor/psychiatrist. For example it can be risky for those with Bipolar because it can cause euphoria. I didn’t have this problem but prudence is always essential; everyone reacts differently.
- Only use a light system intended for therapy! Making a substitution is at best ineffective and at worst, damaging to the eyes.
- Don’t start with an hour long session! Even half an hour might be too much. As with everything, it’s best to see how you react.
- The principle is to decrease the production of melatonin and increase that of serotonin.
- Therapy is often done first thing in the morning but is sometimes done twice per day. You can do seated tasks in front of the light as long as you follow the instructions. I find it really practical that you can get things done while doing something for self-care.
- Therapy usual begins in early Autumn and ends in Spring.
- There are always risks, even with something as seemingly innocuous as light.
Other Ways to Handle the Dark Months
It can be especially difficult to go through Winter if we don’t enjoy cold weather activities. If someone loves skiing, snowboarding, skating, etc., it’s a lot easier to have fun. I’m not one of those people and if you aren’t either, let’s figure out how to still enjoy ourselves.
- We can pursue indoor hobbies, either something we already do and enjoy or something entirely new. It’s so important to have things to look forward to and be excited about!
- Even if we don’t feel like it, it’s still important to spend some time outside in the Winter months. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, bundle yourself up and get out there to absorb some Vitamin D.
- Speaking of Vitamin D, a really good supplement is smart for the parts of the year where the sun is at its weakest!
- Make yourself a Winter reading list.
- Find a sport that you can do indoors. For example I’m going to see if I can continue indoor rock climbing. Due to COVID though I’m not sure if I’ll feel safe enough to go…even vaccinated.
- Learn how to make new and comforting Winter recipes such as hearty soups.
- Make yourself a comfort nook with cozy blankets and pillows where you can curl up and relax with a book, music, etc.
- Think about some fun art projects. Even if you’re not a big enthusiast, you might be surprised trying something hands-on like clay. Remember, you don’t have to be a great artist to enjoy yourself!
- Treat yourself to a (reasonable) shopping for warm clothing. It really helps to feel good and comfortable at the very least; being constantly cold really sucks!
- Make sure you have a healthy sleep schedule because getting up can be so much harder at this time of year.
- Try out some energy boosting teas in place of 17 cups of coffee per day. (Yes, this one is practically writing directly for myself…) I tried a new recipe last year with green tea, lemon, ginger and turmeric. It packs a punch so be warned, and make sure no ingredient goes against a medication you take. It burns on the way down but creates an incredible internal warmth and puts pep in your step. It’s also immune system boosting and a liver cleanse!
- Continue to practice your daily self-care (or start implementing it now!) …it’s always important but especially at this time of year. Don’t let a busy schedule and long to-do list keep you from putting in that designated time.
- Holiday stress is around the corner…my advice? Start early to avoid the yearly ‘Purge’. You also have the benefit of spreading costs so they don’t hit you at the same time!
There’s one other thing I wanted to share with you this morning…a personal update. I did something amazing this weekend. My Dad surprised me with something we’ve been wanting to do forever! Wait for it… SKYDIVING! Yes! It was the most incredible thing I have ever done. That moment of being on the edge of the plane, nothing but the sky and clouds between yourself and the earth…unbelievable. I was speech-less! And then the free-fall at 200km per hour, freezing wind against your face, nothing but pure adrenaline. After that… my favourite part…soaring under the canopy, steering, gliding, swinging, enjoying the incredible view! I even got to steer the chute! This was completely and utterly mind-blowing. We’re now totally addicted! I just had to include a few photos…I highly recommend this; I have never felt more alive! Jumping from 13,500 ft has a way of doing that!
I hope you all enjoyed these tips for The Dark Season Blues! Do you have any tricks? Anything you do to make this time of year easier? We’d love to hear it! Have a great week!