Light for Dark Days
They say it’s always darkest before the dawn, and as this life-changing year draws to a close, it will get darker. Both literally and figuratively as daylight savings time ends this weekend. 2020 notwithstanding, now is the time many feel SAD. There is less sunlight, and we enjoy the outside less.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a depression that accompanies the change of seasons (mostly fall into winter into endless winter) and shifting of the clocks. Some call it the ‘winter blues’, showing up commonly as a loss of interest in things formerly enjoyed, oversleeping, tiredness/low energy, weight gain (craving carbs!) and a host of other unpleasant iterations.
I first understood SADness when I never saw the sun – living in a north-facing ground floor NYC apartment, with a subterranean commute to my windowless office. I also learned there is much you can do to counteract the common, garden-variety type of SADness (those with more severe SADness should definitely talk with a professional). Even if you do don’t suffer from SAD our current stressors and the waning light is challenging, and these ideas still hold true:
- Get as much natural light as possible, both outside and inside. I actually wear lighter-tinted sunglasses to be able to absorb more of the weaker winter sunlight.
- Consider supplementing your natural light intake with a light box that imitates sunlight. They are affordable and easily available on Amazon. Be sure they deliver 10,000 LUX light, with as little UV as possible. Just 20-30 minutes a day can make a big difference in mood.
- Structure a short, relaxation ritual into every day and turn your thoughts outward instead of inward. In the big picture, you know it’s really not about you.
- Connect with those important others by rejecting isolation and socializing via today’s technology. There is always someone to help you learn how to Zoom, Facetime, Chat etc.
- If you have spiritual beliefs, now is the time to call on them and get involved with your place of worship.
- When fear and stress do show up (and they always do), like a cinder that is brushed off before it does damage, acknowledge them and send them on their way.
So do not fear turning the clocks back on November 1st, remembering that the nights will grow shorter and the days longer after the December Solstice (yay end of 2020!). Love, happiness and peace will still exist in the darkest of days. We have the ability to counteract SADness and create light in the world around us, for ourselves and for others.