The Winter Blues – “SAD”

Recently I was on a road trip up to Nelson. It was an early start, so I hit the mountain pass just when the sun was hitting the top of the snow-capped mountains. It was breath-taking beautiful. The East Coast was cloud laden & wet and West of the ranges was as blue as blue. Then, as I came down into the Maruia Valley/ Shenandoah Highway, I was faced with nature at its most stunning. A very heavy white frost – the car was still saying -4ºC – and translucent ground-fog with the sun trying hard to push through. I noticed that all this beauty uplifted my mood and for the rest of my trip I felt warm in my heart.

However, as I was passing through this, it got me thinking about what it is like living under a cloud for long periods of time, physically and mentally. When this happens on a regular basis and related to the seasons, it has a name – (SAD) – Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Symptoms can include:

  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morningcraving carbohydrates and gaining weight

This is something that over the years I have seen with many of my clients.  Depending on the severity, there are things that can help:

  • Try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial
  • make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible
  • sit near windows when indoors
  • take plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet

If these things are not working, then there also are things like Light Therapy (light-box), Counselling, and if need be Medication.

The main thing is to remember that one is not going mad, you are not the only one experiencing this and there are ways that can help the situation.

I will leave you with a picture that gives a hint of the beauty I saw.