Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Winter Blahs

“What a gloomy day this has turned into,” David said aloud, flipping on the windshield wipers and turning on the headlights. The sky was gray and a light drizzle had begun to fall. The weather’s crappy and I feel crappy. I guess I am one of those people, he thought, recalling the television special he’d recently seen about Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. The weather is definitely affecting my mood and not in a good way. Although it was only three o’clock in the afternoon, he decided to call it a day. I’ve got an appointment tonight. That’s good enough; it’ll have to be.

Clearly, David, the main character’s husband in my Malone mystery series, is feeling down in the dumps and lacks motivation. Do you feel like that when the weather is dreary? Recently, I’ve talked with a lot of people who do. They’re having a rough time of it this winter. Most refer to the way they’re feeling as having a case of the “winter blahs.” Some complain of physical ailments and almost everyone says that stress is taking a huge toll on their mental state and their physical health.

While it’s true that we all have problems and challenges in life and, of course, they’re not limited to the winter months, bad weather does make problems seem bigger than they are and it makes a lot of things more difficult to do. It’s hard to plan anything when you never know what news the weatherman will bring you. And, gazing out your window at a frozen, bleak landscape isn’t energizing or motivating. At least not for a lot of people.

I can't say I like winter. I don't like having to wear a coat, hat, gloves and boots. Nor do I like to shovel snow. And I detest (and get very nervous) driving on icy roads. Winter often frustrates and annoys me but it doesn't depress me. And, when I can stay in and spend my time writing, I actually enjoy it because, when it's nice outside, I want to be there, not at my computer. But I can’t help wondering how many people, like David, suffer from SAD. According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s a simple solution to their problem. Here’s what the experts have to say on the subject:

“Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you're like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.

“Treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy (phototherapy). Don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.”

So, if you’re feeling like David, turn on lots of lights, snuggle up with a good book and take comfort in the fact that Spring is just around the corner.