Recently, one of the whiteboards had quoted the famous song lyric, “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.” It didn’t take long before someone else, who remains anonymous to me, took it upon themselves to continue the thought with, “somewhere else, somewhere else, somewhere else!” I must admit that I am in agreement with the latter message.
As a matter-of-fact, before the graffiti artist tagged on their own message, I was tempted to deface the original myself by adding the word “don’t” before each line. Why is it that some people just love the winter months and others, like me, count down the days until spring (which was 80 as of this writing, by-the-way)?
Did you ever hear of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Yes, it’s a real thing. There is a confirmed emotional disorder in which one is negatively impacted by the gloominess of the winter months. If this is you, it’s not your imagination. Please note though that it is not called “Winter,” but rather, “Seasonal” Affective Disorder. That is because some people experience this phenomenon in summer, fall or spring Are you old enough to remember the song entitled, Summertime Blues? “There ain’t no cure” for it. By far though, most people with SAD are affected through the winter months with their lack of sunshine and warmth.
People with SAD experience normal thoughts and feelings most of the year, but shift toward depression during their affected season. While I may grumble about the winter months I do not exhibit the depressed feelings of the SAD sufferer. I know people that do though. So, what can one do who experiences SAD? There are several treatment options.
1. Phototherapy – There are special lights made to combat the lack of sunlight we receive through the winter months. Go to www.amazon.com and search for “SAD Light.” There are many to choose from. The idea is that being in front of the blue glow will restore some of that much-needed light to level our emotions.
2. Medication – Some find relief from SAD through medication. Be sure to seek the guidance of your doctor before attempting to relieve your symptoms in this way.
3. Psychotherapy – Seeking professional counseling in an effort to find relief from SAD.
4. Prayer – It may sound cliché to some to pray about it, but don’t discount the power of prayer. There have been some recent scientific studies suggesting tremendous benefits in prayer for the medical patient.
5. Fellowship – Sometimes it takes great effort, but if you can bring yourself to get out of the house with friends, you may find some relief from SAD. In doing so, you will attack the symptoms head-on. Try participating in some outdoor winter activities such as ice skating, skiing, or simply walking with a friend down a snowy path. For some this may only offer temporary relief, but it’s worth trying.
Whether you find relief by one of these methods, or find success another way, the goal is to press through the SAD season because although very real, the effects of SAD are temporary.
Enjoy the rest of your winter. You can do it!
-Rev. Randy Kightlinger, Chaplain, Visiting Nurses Association of Venango County Hospice