Hello and Good day to you! This past week I had a couple of conversations with women regarding Seasonal Affective Disorder. Interestingly, BOTH of them asked me if I planned on saying anything to Men about this real issue. Each of them stated that they don't experience seasonal symptoms of depression, BUT that the man in their life does. For the sake of argument, I accept their responses as their observation and their personal experience. Both expressed their thoughts with concern and empathy. My first response to each of them was that the focus of my business is directed to women and their SAD, in tandem with decorating their Master Bedroom. BUT, on my morning walk the other day, I started to consider that maybe I should write something just for men. And, to be honest, my own husband has had his share of "down" days this winter. So I offer the following to all the men out there; single, married, widowed, divorced.
It is a fact that men DO suffer with seasonal depression. It's just more common in women. Moreover, as with women, the list of symptoms are not necessarily experienced by everyone. And, the duration of symptoms is unique in length and time of year for each individual. For instance, my husband (with his permission) seems to suffer with irritability and feels down during the months of March and April, for two reasons in particular. First, we have the opportunity to be in a warm climate for January and February. He claims to feel he is in a good mood and enjoys lots of activities. These two months are very low key; no yard to maintain, no indoor projects, no one calls him to "fix" anything. He gets to walk, exercise, meet with friends for coffee, simmer in a hot tub and play bocce, etc. If I can state a word to describe how he seems to me, I would say: REVITALIZED. HOWEVER, when we return for the remainder of the winter season (March and April especially), his mood starts to change. I asked him to describe it in a few words and he said it like this: "unexplained moodiness; lack of motivation and feeling unsettled". (He offered no other nouns or verbs; just descriptive words....just so you know. I appreciate his honesty.)What really makes a difference in keeping my husbands mood afloat is staying busy with projects.
If he is busy with a project, it keeps his mind off of how he "feels". It is apparent in my opinion, and I DO live with him! Second, the months of March and April seem to have a really difficult time offering up sunshine on a regular basis. Temps are generally low and of course, gray skies just add to the misery! Further, there is little to no chance of getting a shot of Vitamin D (that sweet dopamine hit) to perk up ones mood! (This is part of my own personal brand of SAD coming through here!).
Understanding how different we respond to a cloudy, rainy, snowy, below freezing, when will it be sunny again, kind of a day, I have a few practical suggestions:
Tell yourself (or let your loved one(s)hear you acknowledge it) that it is OK to be down/sad/unhappy/irritable/discontent/ticked/angry/depressed; just don't stay there.
Identify your symptoms; this is your own unique brand of seasonal depression. Write them down.
Believe and embrace the TRUTH that YOU ARE NEEDED in this world; in your relationships; in your job; being retired; but most of all - because you are here.
Decide that you will choose to take care of yourself. This will look different from the next person, but you have to make a "Plan" to address your symptoms.
Commit to doing all you can for the sake of your own well being and the quality of life you need for yourself AND those in your life.
Quick List of Remedies:
Check in with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis so you can have the best options to treat your symptoms. This would include medication or the use of Light Therapy. Light Therapy is very effective, but a doctor can tell you if this would benefit you.
Diffusing Essential Oils is incredibly beneficial to uplift mood. This falls under the title of Aromatherapy. You can easily purchase a diffuser and oils online. Doterra is a high quality brand and their website is friendly. A few suggestions for the morning are peppermint, wild orange, lemon, cinnamon and eucalyptus. These oils boost mood, energize and stimulate the brain, and alleviate mental fatigue!!!
If you are a reader, try light reading at bedtime (no Steven King novels) and something inspirational in the morning. Try to set aside the computer, TV and iPhone 30 minutes prior to bedtime. These electronics emit blue light which confuses your brain into thinking it's not bedtime, but time to get up. Use soft yellow light in your bedroom because it doesn't mess with the melatonin your brain is working on to allow you to sleep.
A heart inclined to feel gratitude is open to receive. When you are open to receive, you are better positioned mentally to be in solution mode rather than defensive and without the mental tools to cope with the onslaught of the day.
A great resource is a book titled WINTER BLUES, by Dr. Rosenthal. Even Wikipedia sites him as the research frontrunner on SAD. His book is an incredible read and I have taken alot of his research and offered it throughout my blog posts.
Remember, it's not about "surviving" to live another day; its about living prepared to embrace it!!!
I really enjoyed writing this and hope that someone can benefit. Until next time...Jeanine