Winter Blues Got You Down? Then Get Busy!

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Well, winter is in full swing here in Ohio. I know, some of my friends in the great white north are saying, “You just now figured that out?” And to others in the southern states, all this means is a light jacket in the morning. Regardless of where you live, it’s gotten noticeably colder. And change isn’t something we all handle with a sense of complete grace.

I first heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a couple of years ago. I guess it’s been around since the first caveman had to hibernate for the winter, but we live in an age where every human emotion has to have a name. It’s like bipolar disorder. It’s nothing new. I knew people in high school who could flip in an instant. We just had other names for that.

But that feeling of cabin fever, of being stuck in the house forever, of breathing the same air all day and never getting any fresh oxygen to replace what we’ve used, and staring glumly out the front window, is all part of what we’ve come to know as SAD. I guess that’s an appropriate acronym. I wonder if the person who named it did that on purpose?

According to Mayo Clinic, the symptoms are pretty clear – oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain, and low energy. Check, check, check, and check. Causes can be anything from a disruption to your normal circadian rhythm to reduced serotonin and melatonin levels. But before you medicate yourself, talk to your doctor. Odds are, you just have the winter blues. But you never know.

Oddly enough, the Mayo Clinic also lists symptoms for summer SAD. Seriously? What would that be? Suntan? Sand in your toes? An urge to plant flowers or eat ice cream on the front porch? I guess I’ve never considered any of that to be an ailment. Funny – one of the symptoms they mention for summer SAD is weight loss. Guess that’s why I don’t understand. I’ve never had it.

Call it what you want, I think it’s mostly just the natural human tendency to resist change. Whether we like the way things are or not, change throws our system out of whack. That’s why so many lottery winners are bankrupt within a few years. The change is too sudden, and they can’t handle it. So they subconsciously do everything imaginable to get back where they were – their comfort zone.

Okay, so being broke is a comfort zone? That’s hard to digest, especially for people who are broke and desperately want things to be different. But there’s a certain level of confidence in what we know, good or bad. We know what to expect each day. We know how to handle it. And we know how it will affect us. Sometimes, change is a little more intimidating than just going with what we know.

Two things can help us adjust to change. First is making the change slowly, so we can adjust as it occurs. Anybody who has ever quit smoking cold-turkey knows exactly what I mean. Trying to taper off slowly may not be as effective, but it’s certainly less stressful. It’s the sudden change of quitting on the spot that brings on those powerful cravings and mood swings. So, whenever possible, slow it down.

Secondly, you need that feeling that you deserve the change – it’s something you’ve worked for, a goal you’ve been trying to achieve, and you’ve made the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. It’s not change that was thrust upon you, like the onset of winter. It’s something you wanted badly enough to earn it.

If winter isn’t having the desired effect on your emotional health, the best thing you can do about it is find something else to occupy your time. Instead of staring out the front window, play some games or put a puzzle together. Pick up a hobby. Read a good book. Better still, write one. Start a business. Anything constructive will take your mind off the weather and give you something to feel good about.

Yes, Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. Most of us feel it to some degree, even if we love playing in the snow. The key is to find something better to occupy your mind. Make it something constructive, and when the snow melts, you’ll somehow feel you’ve earned it. Now, if we could just find a way of making us feel we’ve earned winter. I’m not sure I can spend that much time on the beach.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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