It’s February. The holidays are over. The month of January may have been the most difficult – possibly dreary cold or dreary, rainy weather (yes, even those of us in Florida experience these days and weeks)! And this starts to affect our mood, and you think, “okay, now what”???
I used to go a little “nuts” starting right after the holidays, and it lasted mostly into March …. sometimes longer. I would get this overwhelming depressed mood – the “doldrums”, “stir crazy”, “Spring fever”; a yearning for more fun things to do, an almost unsettling feeling. Now, I know what we all call– “the Winter Blues”. It took me years to realize what was bothering me. I would go “stir crazy” on Friday afternoons working in an office, all cooped up. I had thoughts of throwing a rock through a window to get fresh air!!!! (Don’t worry, I didn’t do it… honest – I really didn’t!)
I also recall, several years ago, I had an office sales job in a pleasant enough work environment. It took me a few weeks to realize it, but something was missing, and I felt “antsy” like I wanted to run away and not come back. I felt extra “cooped up”, and I would go stir crazy after lunch. And then I realized it, I had no window near me – and no window to look outside. Yup, I was working in a “windowless” work space! I felt trapped, confined, and like I would suffocate. Yikes, it made me crazy sometimes.
And then, a few years ago, when I began working from home, instead of moving my work office to a spare bedroom that was somewhat darker, I chose instead to work in a space in our living room right next to a big, open – you guessed it – a big window! I FINALLY knew better, but it took me years to figure it out!
“Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) contributes to a lot of the depression or long lasting blues that we may get in the winter time. Unlike the winter blues, which may last for a couple weeks, SAD may last throughout the winter months.
The Mayo Clinic states that “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons – SAD begins and ends about the same time every year.”
According to this article by the Mayo Clinic on SAD, symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
- Tiredness or low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
These are some of the things that I have found personally work for me:
Get Some Sun: Not only are you getting Vitamin D, but it improves your mood. Winter days are shorter and darker than other months, and people spend less and less time outdoors. Sometimes I just sit out front in a chair and get some fresh air for 15 minutes.
Get Out with Family & Friends: This is a big one for me. I have to make lunch plans with my daughters or my girlfriends, or do something social every other week.
Consider Candles, Scents and Aromatherapy: For me, I have a “Scentsy” burner as well as candles and lots of plug ins. I work from home, and I learned that it has to smell good and refreshing. Good smells equal positive feelings which really helps me. If you are in an office, they probably won’t let you light a candle but maybe bring an air freshener for your desk.
Lighting: Make sure your work space or the area where you spend most of the day has good lighting and/or a window. Open up the window shades as much as you can – let the natural light shine through.
SAD Sun Box of Lamp: This is a lamp designed to give you more indoor light and help those of us specifically suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. A friend suggested I buy one, and although I haven’t yet, I think I will look into this!
It really has taken me years to realize that what I experienced (and often still do experience) is the “winter blues”, but I am glad that I now take the small steps listed above to help myself beat the doldrums.
And, we always have the spring and summer to look forward to!! Thank goodness, right?
The most important thing any of us can do is recognize that we are not feeling our “normal” selves. It is important to take proactive steps to feeling better. Similar to issues seeming worse at night, even small issues can seem enormous when we are down in the dumps, so it is important to be kind to ourselves, take care of ourselves and recognize when we need additional support.
Your Friend for all seasons,