The so-called “winter blues” (called Seasonal Affective Disorder, when the condition is debilitating) hit me every year. When shorter days come and outdoor activities cease, my energy level drops. Constant fatigue makes me muddle-headed and irritable. This year, my symptoms have been worse than ever, with tinnitus and dizziness thrown in for fun.
Fortunately, good old Google has offered up a few suggestions through the years to help manage these symptoms.
Extra sleep helps, though it’s difficult to make time for the additional hours in bed.
This year, I’ve started taking a Vitamin D3-K2 complex. As Vitamin D can only be manufactured by the body when skin is exposed to sunlight, it’s no wonder my levels of this key vitamin were most likely low.
But what has seemed to help most through the years is called a “Happy Light.” According to its manufacturer, Verilux, the spectrum of light this fixture emits is as close to sunlight as possible, minus the damaging UV rays, and it prompts the body to regulate one’s circadian rhythms and create all sorts of happy hormones.
When I’m grading papers or working on my computer, I set the light up about a yard away, within my peripheral line of site. This year, I felt better after just a few days of light therapy – no more dizziness or ringing in my ears. No more urge to go back to bed within a few hours of getting up. I felt more energized, more optimistic, more focused. All this, by basking in the glow of artificial sunlight!
I noticed that when my symptoms were at their worst, for about a week, I struggled to have my devotions. I fell asleep when I tried to pray, and I could make little sense of the Scripture I tried to read. For several days, I didn’t read my Bible or pray at all.
I know that the Holy Spirit was still present in my heart, but I could not sense him. I missed his comforting presence, the reassurance of his leading.
I felt keenly the lack of his illumination.
How thankful I am that my little bout of winter blues has never led to true clinical depression. I am grateful for a body and mind that is generally strong and fit, so that I am able to do all the things necessary to maintain my spiritual and physical health.
I’m thankful for access to simple, effective therapies like Vitamin D and artificial sunlight.
I’m humbled and blessed by the illuminating presence of God’s Holy Spirit.
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. – Exodus 13:21
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. – John 14:26
Have you ever battled the winter blues? What helps your symptoms? I welcome your comments as always.