I made pasta for dinner last night. That, in and of itself, is totally fine, but when I caught myself in the kitchen this morning scarfing down half a box of crackers, a croissant, and starting to make some Ramen, I realized I had a problem. Why all this carbo-loading? I have a pretty serious case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and about this time every year, especially in the weeks just after daylight savings time, my body seriously freaks out. It hits so suddenly, too! Although I normally enjoy eating pretty healthily, right now I can hardly bring myself to eat any of the fresh fruit I just bought. I have trouble sleeping at night, and I have trouble staying focused and awake during the day. I eat as if I'm about to go into hibernation. As winter sets in more, I start to feel bleak and melancholy. I've dealt with your basic garden-variety depression for many years, but SAD is something different, and it throws me off a bit every time it starts to sink in. What do you mean, sunset is at 4:30??
I've felt this way ever since I was a kid; I remember my mom telling me stories about how I would start to cry whenever it snowed. Well, after dealing with this for so many years, there are a few things I've found that help me.
- Yoga. Absolutely. Just do it. Something about increased blood flow or natural energies... I dunno, it's just magic, okay?
- Sunlight. Whenever the sun's out, go soak it up. If it's totally frigid outside, find a patch of sunlight coming through the window and sit in that patch of sunlight on your carpet like a cat. I'm serious. I do it.
- Citrus seems to help me, either drinking orange juice, eating fruit, or even just smelling it. I grew up with grandparents who owned citrus ranches, and so at first, I thought it was just me being nostalgic, as citrus has always felt like a comfort food. Then, as I researched SAD a little bit more, I came across many articles stating the same thing. Weird!
- Leave. As often as possible, I try to get out of the mountains and take trips to warmer places. Thankfully, I have family in California, and I'm able to visit a few times a year. Seriously, once I have a CA trip lined up, I get a little desperate and start counting down the days. I also try to take road trips to the desert, either Santa Fe or Moab. As soon as I'm in that warm sunlight, my mood, and my outlook on life, instantly improve. Maybe one day, my dream of living on a citrus ranch in CA will come true :)
If any of you out there are affected by SAD as well, hope this helps! Please feel free to share your tips with me as well!