Wednesday, January 19

If you have SAD...

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but Seasonal Affective Disorder is a talked about thing over here in Washington. Mainly because at this time of the year, we've had rain for about two months now and we can easily anticipate rain for the next three months.

(One random tangent. When I lived in Germany, I found the Black Forest region to be quite similar to where I live in Washington, in regards to the hills/mountains, green scenery, trees, etc. However, it was so much sunnier there. However, what made me chuckle is hearing complaints from a number of the staff claiming that it rained all the time there! You say po-tay-to, I say po-taw-to.)

Anyhow, the "problem" with Washington is not the rain but the fact that when it is not raining, the skies are still overcast and grey. We can go for days without seeing any blue sky. Combine the grey skies, the regular dose of rain, and the short days, it's no wonder people get SAD.

So how do you know you have SAD? (courtesy of the Mayo clinic)
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy (aka, you want to stay in bed all day!)
  • Social withdrawal (coming off of Christmas, a social high?? understandable...)
  • Oversleeping (this doesn't include forgetting to set your alarm, okay?)
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Appetite change, especially a craving for foods high in carbs (umm...can we say comfort foods?)
  • Weight gain (see above)
  • Difficultly concentrating and processing information (especially if you are asleep)
Now, don't think I'm mocking this...honestly I could probably claim three to five of those characteristics myself although some of them have more to do with completing my thesis paper (9 weeks left...EEK!) than having SAD. So what can you do to treat SAD? Well I'm no doctor but here are a few suggestions:
  • They say that tanning beds or happy lights are effective. They provide extra light, helping alleviate any greyish moods.
  • Also, I would suggest to plan an activity with some friends. Not only does this give you something to look forward to but then the actual energy that you will use and/or generate by doing the planned activity. Make it small and quaint or big and boisterous...either way, you'll have a bit of fun! And be sure to give hugs liberally...unless it becomes creepy, then stop!
    • Plan a game night
    • Have a potluck meal or a dessert-making contest
    • Go bowling
    • Take a hike (yes, in the rain)
    • Plan a scavenger hunt with your friends
    • Drive to the nearest mountain where there is snow
    • Have a summer-theme day (get slurpees/ice cream, turn the heat up in your home, have a mini luau-type of thing)
  • Recognize that you are in a slump...the first step is admitting it, right? ("hi, my name is Mindy and I'm in a greyish mood," "hi, Mindy!"). Then set your mind to change how you think and feel for at least today...if today is too much, then at least for right now, in the moment. I was feeling stressed, overwhelmed and weighed down when I wrote this post a couple days ago. But amazingly, after I wrote it and thought about the prayer, the rest of my day felt lighter and brighter. I know the whole "mind over matter" thing is easier said than done. But it is possible to change the tape playing in your head...the one that reiterates how stinky, boring, mundane, or sad your life might be. Fill your thoughts with good things! Find a funny clip online to make you smile or laugh. Listen to a song that cheers your spirit or gets you dancing.
  • Make sure you are taking care of yourself. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Eat healthy balanced meals (even if your mind is screaming for carbs). Indulge in a comfort food or two...just don't overdo it. Exercise (oh, how this can be hard when it's grey and rainy outside and you want to curl up in bed). Read a good book. Take a bath.
  • Remember...this too shall pass. You won't be gloomy forever. And if you are, see a doctor...there's no shame in asking for help.
Well, there you have it! Go and be SAD no more!

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