After a long winter, this spring is being welcomed with extra open-arms. Though, we are now mid-late April and the Spring season officially began a month ago, there is still a chill in the air. A chill that doesn’t seem to want to go away. Though this is not uncommon for the New York area, it does make this past winter, which seemed exceptionally dark, cold and nasty, hard to shake.
Many people suffer from SAD or Seasonal Affected Disorder which was first named and reported by South African psychiatrist, scientist and author, Norman E. Rosenthal along with the National Institute of Mental Health in the 1980’s. This disorder is a depression that typically begins in the late fall/early winter and lasts throughout the season until a greater amount of natural sunlight warmer temperatures begin to creep up. Lack of motivation and energy and irritability occur along with these other factors:
- Increased appetite/weight gain
- Increased sleep
- Loss of interest in enjoyed activities
- Social withdrawal
Possibly, somewhere in our genetic make-up there’s a desire for us to revert back to our ancestors and hibernate during the cold winter months. Treatments include light therapy in which artificial bright light mimics the natural rays of the sun or the carefully measured hormone melatonin to name a few. Light therapy seems to be the most successful. Light bulbs are sold in stores to keep and use in your home during the cold weather season.
Though I have not been professionally diagnosed, this particular winter was hard for me. It was also the first winter I did not work a full-time job, I was home more and alone, which made me realize how dark my apartment can get during the winter months. Downward spiralling, everything became harder to accomplish and manage. I accomplished the necessary tasks (go to class -grumbling-, study -a ton-, clean, etc.). Simply being happy was hard, though I also tried very hard. But one shouldn’t have to try to be happy. I knew the sunshine was a major component missing in my life. My husband and I have even talked about moving somewhere warmer and sunnier in the next few years…
Now that the weather is slowly getting warmer, beautiful flowers are starting to bloom, the air is warm enough to take long walks/runs in the park, I am getting out more and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. The psychological freedom to be outside again is blissful. The other day I ran a 5K in the park then cooled down with some yoga. It was magical and near 80 degrees. There were bugs birthing out of the ground all around me and I didn’t even care. I felt a oneness with them, as if I was coming out of my dark hole and flying toward the sunshine too.
Here are some photos of the park and my neighborhood that I’ve come across on my recent runs (they practically make me skip instead of run):
Do you get SAD? How do you cope? Next fall I will revisit this post so that we can all prepare again. In the mean time, get outside, take in the warmer temperatures and smile. Cue the Beatles: “Here Comes The Sun…” doo doo doo doo… 🙂