My Own Personal Rules of S.A.D. Survival II

Well, I made it through the holiday season, and I am assuming that you did, too, if you are now reading this. It was a good stretch, and I had plenty of down time to get caught up on some writing and other things around the house. That has continued into this week, as it is has been extremely slow, but I am not complaining! It’s nice to have time to breathe and do some duties that normally get thrown by the wayside.

Part of my productivity and inspiration has stemmed from the decent weather that we have had thus far. The snow blower has remained in the garage, and we have barely had any snow to even speak of. Today was up to almost 50 degrees with full sun all day. We have been very blessed, to say the least. May it continue!

What is in your S.A.D. survival guide? I'm sharing what's in mine...

In one of my last blog posts, I talked about having some personal rules of S.A.D. survival. Well, good news, because I have the second installment of the post that was featured on The Crazy Rambler:

Guest Post II by “My Life as a Zombie” Dealing With S.A.D.

If you live someplace that Seasonal Affective Disorder is common, you know that you will deal with it on an annual basis, so it is wise to develop your own “S.A.D. Survival Guide,” whether formally or informally.

I want to thank The Crazy Rambler again for allowing me to take up some valuable space on her blog. I hope that you will check out her blog, which is much more advanced and versatile than this one.

In other news, this has nothing to do with S.A.D., but since zombies are an interest of mine, I thought it would be interesting to pass along this scientific news story about bees exhibiting zombie-like behavior:

Discovery.com– FLY PARASITE TURNS HONEY BEES INTO ‘ZOMBIES’

Maybe these zombie bees were exhibiting signs of S.A.D. by gravitating towards light and walking around in circles. That description does not sound all that different from me during winter. 😉 Talk about killer bees…

Enjoy the upcoming weekend!

"Zombee"? This news story suggests that the concept may be more real than we think. Photo credit: ShirtShovel.com

My Own Personal Rules of S.A.D. Survival

What is in your S.A.D. survival guide? I'm sharing what's in mine...

When you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, you can count every wintry day that you make it through as an accomplishment.  The name of the game becomes getting through your days as effectively as possible under the circumstances.

Recently I was asked by The Crazy Rambler to provide a guest post naming some ways that I manage to get by in spite of my S.A.D.  As I have dealt with it over the past 3 years since being diagnosed, I have learned some personal “tricks of the trade,” if you will.  Some of them may be only useful to me, and some may be useful to others.  After I was diagnosed with S.A.D., I literally wrote a survival guide for myself that I still have.  It helped to give me a game plan and some hope for times when my mind is cloudy and tired and all hope seems lost.

I am passing along this first installment of my guest post in hopes that you will find it helpful, or at least, you can take comfort in my struggles, as misery does love company (believe me– I know):

Guest Post I by “My Life as a Zombie” Dealing With S.A.D.

How do you get by during this tough time of year?  I would love to hear your own tricks and tips, so please comment below.

Make sure to catch the second installment with more S.A.D. survival tips later this week.

Survival Tips for the Seasonally Affected During the Holiday Season

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

Is it?  Really?  For those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I beg to differ.  To people with S.A.D., it is actually the most horrible time of the year. The holiday season stretches even most normal people to their max, so how much more so is that true for someone with S.A.D.  I happen to think that I would be much happier and more into celebrating the holidays if they fell during the summer.

Days that are more like night mixed with snow and cold hardly constitutes the most wonderful time of the year to me...

But even though many people may feel like the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year during the actual time, the post-holiday season brings a serious downfall.  Due to the intense activity, elated feelings, and extra artificial light at night that occur during the holidays, the time after the holidays often brings depression to about 25% of the population.  My own personal thinking is that this is the time that the winter blues really sets in for many people, without anything else to temporarily distract them or prop them up.  I question how many people really feel that the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but rather use the time as an opportunity to make themselves temporarily feel better.

For someone like myself who suffers from S.A.D., the expectations caused by the holidays only exacerbate the problem– it becomes difficult to keep up with the extra work, expense, and increased interaction with others.  I often feel like all of it is a charade, and I wonder why we all insist on buying into it.  This is very much in contrast to my previous enthusiasm for the holidays.

Recently on my main blog, I discussed some of the ways that I personally am getting through this holiday season, and much of it involves making things more simple.

Live Simply, Live Thrifty, Live Savvy– I’m Dreaming of a Simplified Christmas…

In a season of overdrive and excess, surviving in spite of Seasonal Affective Disorder must be contemplated carefully.  Here are some of my tips to make it through the holidays with your sanity in tact:

  • Just because you did it before does not mean that you need to do it again this year. Different years your S.A.D. may be affecting you differently, so feel free to go with the flow, and make changes as needed, even if it means doing less.
  • Delegate and ask for help.  My tree is not up, because no one has offered to help, and I did not feel like asking.  However, if someone wants to help, I may feel more inclined to put it up.  Don’t be afraid to rely on others for help during this rough time of the year.
  • Get rid of the unnecessary.  If something does not really mean anything to you or make you feel better, get rid of it.  If it is a drudgery, let it go by the wayside, and save your energy for more important tasks.
  • Know your social limits. Dealing with others during this time is pretty difficult for me, so I do not go to visit family for a week at a time.  Rather, we chose this year to stay home for Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and visit for a couple of days at Christmas.
  • Avoid stores if they bother you.  With today’s modern technology, it is possible to get all shopping done from the comfort of home.  If going to the store is only going to waste precious energy or cause you to feel emotionally drained, shop from your computer instead.
  • Do things that you honestly enjoy.  There are so many things to do at this time of the year– social obligations, activities, duties, things to watch, etc.  Limit what you do only to those things that truly bring you joy.  For me, that is sitting down and watching some favorite Christmas movies, especially the classics.  No longer do I feel the need to run to every local happening just to feel that I have celebrated the holidays sufficiently.
  • Lower your expectations.  Many times we put more pressure on ourselves than everyone else combined puts on us, so learn to do what you can, and let things other things go.

If you have S.A.D., you know how tough that daily living can be, much less surviving the holiday season.  You will feel happier and healthier if you learn what works for you personally, and if you allow yourself the grace to make changes as needed.  Your top goal during the holiday season and beyond should be keeping yourself in the best spirits possible and stretching your available focus, energy, and creativity to the max.

Somehow, I question if I agree with the premise of this...

Daylight Savings Time is for the Birds

Daylight Savings Time ended almost a month ago, and yet I am still adjusting.  The concept has some merit, until it ends, and then the day is on its way to darkness by the time you pick up the kids from school.  By 4:30 PM CST as I write this, it is almost dark.

I guess if I were to look at the bright side as someone recently suggested, it is December 1st, and pretty soon we will have the winter equinox, which means that from then on, the days will get longer.  But let’s be realistic: it is a slow process, and what we are really looking at is months of short, dark days with long, dark nights, and lots of cold to match.

If you find Daylight Savings Time as pointless and confusing as I do, you may enjoy reading this recent blog post from Dr. Norman Rosenthal about why most of the United States participates in DST, and why it affects many of us in the way that it does, particularly those who are seasonally affected.

There Goes Daylight Savings Time: What Can You Do About It?

Upon reading the post, you will find that he suggests replacing natural light with artificial light therapy.  If you have been feeling sluggish, overly tired, unmotivated, and/or down, light therapy could be a solution to look into.  For those of us with S.A.D., it is considered the top way to treat the condition (well, other than moving close to the equator, of course). 🙂  But even if you do not have S.A.D., but just get a little of the winter blues, feel more tired during the winter, and/or have some other form of depression, light therapy is still an effective option.

I have mentioned these lights on the list of S.A.D. resources on the home page, but I am going to run through them here as well.  I asked my insurance to pay for my light after getting diagnosed.  Strangely enough at the time, I had been working at a warehouse that stored and shipped higher-value products from a well-known website, and one of them just happened to be a light.  I was not familiar with S.A.D. at that time, but the girls in the office found the concept of a “happy light” intriguing, so we all took turns (me reluctantly, at first) setting up the light on our desk, and using it for a while in the mornings.  So, when I found out that I needed a light of my own to deal with my S.A.D., I knew exactly which one that I wanted.

Day-Light Classic Bright Light Therapy System by Up-Lift Technologies

In order to have the insurance pay for the item, I had to be officially diagnosed, have my therapist suggest bright light therapy as a form of treatment, and have the therapist write a prescription for the light. The truth is, buying a light one time is a much better investment than paying for ongoing prescription medications or trips to a facility that offers bright light therapy.

Any light designed for bright light therapy will work, but this one has a nice soft, warm glow to it.  It also can be easily set up for use on a desk next to or over a computer screen.

I also have some mini lights that I received as a gift, which are really useful for tight spaces, like on a desk or table, or in a bathroom or kitchen.

HappyLight 2500 Energy Lamp Twin Pack by Verilux

These are a little more discreet than the previous light, and look less conspicuous, so if you are using them in public, these ones are less likely to draw unwanted questions. Plus, with two of them, you can keep them in different parts of the house, or use one at work and one at home.  This lamp provides a little more bluish-white light than the previous (more like typical fluorescents, if I had to compare).

Other ways to get the light that you need involve taking advantage of natural light when it is available.  Open your blinds, shades, or curtains during the day– the light will help you, and help to keep your heating costs low (make sure to close them at night).  When possible, attempt to sit or stand facing the windows.  Even if you are not an outdoorsy person, taking a ride in the car can allow you to get some much-needed sun.  If you have a sun roof, you may want to consider using it.

I often try to play the hero and do without my lights for as long as possible (my husband asked me out-of-the-blue today where my light was, and I was embarrassed to say that I have not taken it out yet), but realistically, no amount of rest or caffeine can substitute for it. My therapist recommended that I start using light therapy as early as August each year in order to stave off my Seasonal Affective Disorder, so dedicated use throughout at least half to three-fourths of the year (late summer through early spring) is probably ideal, particularly depending on where you live.  Light therapy can help you to deal with the seasonal changes that occur at this time of the year, particularly the dramatic shift that takes place when Daylight Savings Time ends.

Note: Consultation with a medical professional prior to starting any form of treatment is highly advised.