It's Still Winter!

WOW! I haven't written anything new since January 1! It appears that the doldrums of winter have truly set in. One morning last week, I was finding it difficult to leave the cozy cocoon of my comforter. From this wonderful comfort, I asked my husband about the weather outside. His response, "It's still winter." Yup. That about sums it up. This is the time of year when I find that I am wishing it was a different season. I am wishing that I was somewhere else. I am wishing to be away from the overcast, dark sky.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is fairly common here in Michigan. It is the time of year when the season has a direct impact on our mood and therefore our behavior. Sometimes called SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that often starts and ends at the same time every year - fall right into the winter months. It can sap our energy and make us moody and lethargic. Most often we think that we have to "buck up" and deal with this on our own. There are things, however, that we can actively do to make us feel better and to minimize some of the symptoms of SAD.

Although it is always important to establish consistent sleep patterns, it is extremely important to do so in the winter. We have a tendency to hibernate in the winter and oversleep causing us to rush around when we do oversleep which can make us feel late and unorganized. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Limit the amount of screen time the hour before you go to bed. All of this can help keep your circadian rhythm stay on track and keep working.

Soaking up sunlight when we can is also important. Yes, we have less sun in the winter but when we do, we need to take a walk and even sit in the sun as it comes in our windows. The fresh air along with the sun is extremely beneficial. You can also make use of photo-therapy by investing in a light machine. (Look on amazon for some suggestions.) Many people find this an effective tool.

Being with friends and socializing is more important than ever in the winter months. It is easy to stay inside and isolate but that is opposite of what works best for us. Surround yourself with people who you enjoy and who are upbeat and positive. Go to the movies, get outside for winter sports, or learn a new craft or musical instrument. Enjoy yourself. Play.

When necessary, call your therapist and talk it out. Remember to be proactive. If you are noticing signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and recognize that you are isolating yourself and losing focus see a doctor for a referral for a counselor if you do not already have one. Talk therapy is a good reminder of what is normal and of who we are. When engaging in therapy we are reminded of our strengths and can focus on what we can do not what we cannot or choose not to do.

The sun tried to come out for a short time today. I took a quick walk around the parking lot at my office just to breathe the air and see some sunlight. I've decided to play more so I'm off to learn how to make a birdhouse with my grandson. Last week I chaperoned his class and saw a play at the local theatre. Enjoy each moment that you can instead of wishing days and time away. Each day and each moment is precious. Happy Winter!

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