But this time of year comes with a twist for me.
Usually it starts around October when I’m anticipating the time change for daylight savings time (someone please tell me why we’re still doing this?) and suddenly it’s getting dark at 4:30 eastern.
Here on the East Coast the weather gets colder and the trees lose their leaves—everything is stark and grey, without color. Even the sky. It’s like going from bright Technicolor to black, white and grey.
I love color and light. A lot. It gives me energy. For a long time I never understood why my mood would change during the winter months. But I’d go into a depression and sometimes be stuck in it until spring.
Once I found out what the deal was, it was a revelation. My issues had to deal with the lack of light. From that point on I made sure to do things to help me through: more light, more color and more exercise. Along with those things, less sugars (to avoid the sugar crashes), mediation and lots of reinforcement.
If I get a running start in October, usually I can get through it without falling into an emotional hole. And that hole is not the place to be. It’s like being sucked into an abyss at its worst points.
Once that happens, it’s easy to get stuck in the worse addictive behaviors — or to tune out completely and detach from my normal activities. Of course if you’re showing up at a workplace everyday, your symptoms might be alleviated somewhat. But when you’re working from home (and probably spending large amounts of time alone) it’s tough to stay on track.
But what really pisses me off is that this is called a disorder. It also has its own stupid name: SAD. Seasonal Effective Disorder. Really? Who the hell really thought naming a thing like this, SAD?
Not only are you feeling like shit, but the name of your so-called disorder is just as depressing.
Let me clarify. I don’t consider what I go through as a disorder. Yes, I like light and color. Yes, I prefer to see it all the time, not just 6-9 months out of the year. I’m not broken. I just need certain things and I’m not getting them. That’s how I choose to see it.
So, I’ve learned to compensate by doing healthy things to keep me going so I can have the energy to get my work done.
Here are some suggestions:
*Get a light box or add more lights to your environment. A friend of mine recommended full-spectrum light bulbs and I’m using them in my home office.
*Buy fresh flowers or postcards or other items to add a touch of color to brighten up your home or workspace.
*Exercise is a great way to lift your mood. If you can’t get outside as often, use online exercise videos or DVDs. Or create your own routines.
*Meditate in the morning and evening to clear your mind and get focused. If you’re feeling down, positive self-talk will get you going and help to release anxiety.
*Don’t hesitate to meet with a health professional if you feel it’s necessary. There is help out there in many forms, and there’s no shame in acknowledging that you can’t manage this on your own.
One more thing: limiting your exposure to negative environments (and negative people) can go a long way. Now is the time for extreme self-care, so don’t be stingy with it.