Winter weather got you down?
You may be familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. I won’t bore you with the scientific specifics, since any questions can be answered with good ol’ google and Wikipedia. But basically, SAD, also known as the “winter blues” occurs when people begin to feel more depressed in the winter time (or any specific season, though it is rarely anything but winter). Having always lived in upstate New York, I’ve seen a lot of this. Some of my friends are actually affected quite strongly by the change in seasons, and it always seems like such a shame that the weather can take such a negative toll on our bodies and minds. In the winter months, we don’t get nearly enough sunlight or fresh air, and many people may actually suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency during this season and not even know it. A professor of mine actually suggested that we get our Vitamin D levels checked, because it is easy enough to take a supplement if they are too low.
I always thought that I was not affected by the seasons in this way. I prefer cloudy days. They make me feel so much more comfortable and cozy than sunlight, which often feels harsh to me. BUT, having said that, I am starting to realize that I might be more impacted by the seasons than I had previously thought. We have had a couple of random nice days in the past month or so, nearing 60 degrees. And these have come between blizzards and weeks of below-freezing temperatures. And on those days, especially when it was also rainy, I noticed that I just felt so much happier and more motivated to do anything. The little bothers in life didn’t get to me quite so much and it was a lot easier to get over stressful events when I could just go for a walk without feeling like my face was being whipped off by the wind! So while I do find gray days cozy, I think I (like many other people) really do feel better when I can get outside and absorb even a few rays of sunshine. For me I think part of it is also psychological: spring and summer are happier times in general, and the warm weather is associated with those seasons. So when I walk outside and it smells like spring (even if it’s actually January), suddenly I get all of that hope and motivation that typically comes along in April when school is almost out.
Regardless of my own specifics, I think it is important to assess yourself! If you have been feeling blue or hopeless or down in the dumps lately, it’s possible that you’ve got a case of SAD. Now, I’m not saying everyone who is unhappy right now should just go diagnose themselves with this. But the reason I bring this to your attention is because SAD can often be managed. One common treatment is light therapy, which literally entails sitting under a specific type of lamp for about an hour at a time and giving your body a good dose of artificial sunlight. Some people see a lot of improvement with this!
If you suspect that your sadness may be related to the season, I would encourage you to look into it and think about treatment options. I’m trying to keep myself motivated by saying, “It’s February now. Spring starts next month, technically!” (Although in New York State, it often feels more like spring starts in late May. But no matter what, we’re getting closer and closer!)
Keep your head high; there may be ways around your SADness!