Sunday night, somewhere between a fit of crying, a fight with my husband, and the violent deboning of a roast chicken, it hit me – this wasn’t “sad”; this was S.A.D.
One would think regularity would ease self-diagnosis. Starting in middle school, winter blues have descended the week after daylight savings – like clockwork. Only this year they didn’t. The days grew shorter, but my mood stayed upbeat. It’s been a warm winter here on the East Coast. Warm enough to spend more time outside in the yard, riding my bike, monitoring recess. The extra exposure daylight seemed to have a moderating affect. And when I began, post-Christmas, to feel a bit raw inside, I had a thousand reasonable explanations – a bad cold, a serious family illness, an emotional situation with a student, grades due. But when happy songs, deep poetry, escape fiction, and hot chocolate weren’t helping, when introspection became a vicious cycle of self-doubt, when my moods had taxed my husband’s patience, I finally figured it out.
In past years, I have found a nearly perfect formula to keep the specter of winter at bay. It’s simple, it’s been recommended by my doctor and by reputable research studies, and it works quickly. I just wish I had implemented it a month ago . . .
1) Thirty minutes of exercise a day. Good for the body in general – vital in the winter. I spend 20 minutes on the Nordic Track when I wake up and try to take a quick brisk walk mid-day.
2) A daily muli-vitamin. Make sure it has those good B vitamins.
3) 30 – 60 minutes using a light lamp. My husband calls this my happy box. I place it on the Nordic track in the morning and use it while correcting papers at night. Sunday night, I retrieved it from the top of the closet and after three days, I can feel my body recalibrating. I love my happy box.
How do you keep the winter blues in check?