Beating Winter Depression - Time to Plan Ahead

John McManamy Health Guide
  • A quick reminder:


    With the shift in seasons, daylight (in the northern hemisphere) is in short supply. When we set our clocks back next month, sun will be at an even higher premium.


    I received a quick foretaste of this today when a friend called at around five-ish. By the time I got off the phone two hours later, it was dark outside.


    I noticed a long time ago that, for me, missing my daily walk was worse than missing my meds. I kill a great many birds with one stone by taking walks, but the sunshine factor is huge. Take away my sun and I am a very depressed individual.


    This is the time of year when many of us live in mortal fear of what may happen to us in the months ahead. Seasonal affective disorder (winter depression) is linked to lack of sunlight, and those of us with bipolar are sitting ducks.

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    People living in northern climes are most at risk, but even sun-belters need to be mindful. I live 30 miles outside San Diego, in an area that experiences hardly any rainfall, but blue skies are totally irrelevant if I fail to get out the door.


    I need to plan better.


    Those of you who work indoors need to pay very special attention. In the months ahead, you will probably be driving back and forth in the dark. If you’re not careful, you may go days without breathing and looking at the sun at the same. Real quick:

    • Your lunch break may be your only chance to break free. Forget the lunch room, forget the gym. Make a mad dash for the exit. Inhale the sun.
    • Even a pale winter sun low on the horizon may make all the difference in the world. Never squander an opportunity. If your choice is between driving home right now and standing in the parking lot to catch those last rays - well, it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?
    • Keep those light boxes handy. Even those who regularly get outdoors may need an assist from a light box. Should you decide to use one, maintain a discipline and stick to a regular schedule. First thing in the morning is a good way to sync your master clock to the day ahead. Evening - when we need to be winding down - is not the time for bright light.
    • Plan some time in a sunnier climate. Not all of us have this option, but if you’re one of the lucky ones - bon voyage. 

    Bottom line: Seasonal shifts demand changes in our routines. Be wise, live well. Plan ahead. Stick to it.

Published On: September 23, 2014