I try to embrace each season for its special gifts, but I’m a summer girl at heart. I thrive on warm weather and sun light. Come to think of it, I’m much like a cat in that respect! I don’t like cold weather, and I definitely don’t like snow. As a result, this time of year is challenging for me: the winter doldrums have definitely set in for me. Even though the days are already starting to get longer, spring still seems a long way off. And while I don’t have a true case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), I still struggle with the lack of light, especially on grey, gloomy days.
People who suffer from SAD may sleep too much, have little energy, and crave sweets and starchy foods during this time. They may also feel depressed. Severe cases may require treatment by a physician, but there are some simple things everyone can do that will help combat the winter blues. And not surprisingly, our cats seem to have it all figured out.
Allegra and Ruby always seek out the sunny spots in our home, but they do so especially this time of year. They don’t need scientific studies to tell them that exposure to light helps with the winter blues. Short of lying down next to your cats for a nap in a sun puddle, which actually sounds like a pretty good idea to me, the following may also help:
- In addition to the obvious things like eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep, make sure you schedule activities that get you outside. Even a few minutes of natural light a day can make a difference in how you feel. I go for an hour long walk at lunchtime each day in almost any kind of weather, barring a blizzard or heavy downpour.
- Put more light into your life. Having a lot of lights on in your house may not be a substitute for natural sunlight, but it can raise your spirits. When it’s dark outside, a dark, gloomy house just contributes to a low mood. Replace ordinary light bulbs with full-spectrum bulbs.
- Consider getting a lightbox. Lightboxes are no longer the expensive proposition they used to be, good quality modelscan be purchased for around $50. Lightboxes are also available for pets.
- Reframe your thoughts about winter. Even if it’s not your favorite time of the year, find something to appreciate about the season. If it wasn’t for fall and winter, we wouldn’t enjoy spring as much.
- Reiki has been proven to help with depression by putting the body, mind and spirit into a deep state of relaxation. Even a single treatment can provide considerable relief.
When all else fails, join your cats in that sun puddle. Alternately, curl up with a good book, a cat, and a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoy the cold, dark days from a warm spot on your sofa!
Is winter a difficult time for you? What has helped you cope?