It is mid-January and the days are, finally, getting noticeably longer – which is a relief for those of us suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or, as I often refer to it, Seasonally Afflicted Depression! Whenever spring approaches I’m so happy to be getting over SAD.
For years I suffered from SAD and didn’t realize it. Thankfully it doesn’t affect me so much these days, but my symptoms started as a growing depression as the year reached towards its close and a definite feeling that my life wasn’t worth living shortly after Christmas.
I first noticed it as an affectation. As the days get shorter and the nights draw in, when you wake up in the morning and it is still dark, a lot of the joy of life seems to leave you. Yes, this feeling is ameliorated by the weeks leading up to Christmas and the excitement of the season.
But after the Christmas festivities are over and everything still seems black, when you go to work in the dark and return home in the blackness of night, depressive mood swings can catch you out.
It’s been better since I have been spending more time in sub-tropical climes. For example in Shenzhen, China, which I visit often, the day length changes only by an hour or so between summer and winter, regulating the day length, and my mood, to a pattern which helps me cope better when I return to the UK.
The real key to getting over SAD, though, is to formulate a response to your depressive thoughts. This can be action based or an emotional response.
Whenever I’m feeling in the slightest depressed, actually getting off my arse and doing something spurs me into a more positive frame of mind. Actually accomplishing what I set out to do and ticking it off my to-do list helps lift my spirits.
Another way is to actually realize that you are better off than a lot of other people in the world. It might not seem like it, when depression raises its ugly head, but most of us live in a virtual paradise. The very fact that you have a roof over your head, water to drink and food to eat, and have no natural predators stalking you, means you’re better off than the majority of other living things on this planet.
Take a look around you. It might seem that the birds in the sky are soaring through the air in apparent freedom – ‘as free as a bird’. In reality, though, they are forever looking around, fearful of being preyed upon and always searching for that next peck of food.
And don’t forget that their lives are tragically short compared to ours. Even if you look at the lives of other humans on this planet, a huge proportion of them are struggling to find food, water and, often, somewhere to rest at night. Look back in history only one hundred years and you’ll soon see that life was more difficult, and uncertain, for your ancestors.
I find it helps to reflect on the relative peace in our current lifestyle, compared to the struggle of other living beings, and what we have to look forward to.
And if you don’t have anything to look forward to, why not change that outlook? Start making plans to better your situation. Don’t let depression drag you down but keep your head up and fixed on a brighter future. Just as the days will get longer and the sun will come out, so your life can be changed for the better if only you will set yourself achievable goals.
Need help doing that? Let’s discuss it over a friendly chat. Schedule a call with me by clicking here and, together, we can put together an action plan for your brighter and better future. I look forward to helping you in getting over SAD – together we can crack it.