If you noticed this past Sunday we had the first sunlight in nearly 3 weeks! This prompted coffee and a hike first thing in the morning. We made our way to Dewey Hill, in Grand Haven, as the sun just kissed it’s large dune.
Naturally, the sun is something we notice if we don’t have – it’s a energy source well beyond the function it serves to this big planet. The remainder of the day included “Hello’s” from cherry strangers reminding me that we cannot deny the effects that the sun provides for us mentally, physically and spiritually.
Winter Blues, Seasonal Depression Disorder and SAD, are common name side effects that individuals can suffer from with the lack of sunlight. Could it be because of the taxing nature Winter has on us?
Circadian rhythm is the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. It responds primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a light-related circadian rhythm.—Living in Michigan, with cold and no sunshine stretching anywhere from late September to early April. Winter can be an opportunity to enjoy several winter activities…if weather permits.
However, winter is the coldest and barest season. Wet, cold, even icy weather often keeps people from coming outside for days or weeks at a time, leading to cabin fever. From early January to as late as mid-April, most public schools are in session for weeks without a decent break. Work and school tasks feel longer and harder, and even favorite activities lose their appeal.
More so, in the winter months of Michigan with an average of 163 days of sunlight per year is expected. Effects of the lack of sun or, S.A.D symptoms may appear for many. Floatation therapy can help alleviate symptoms of S.A.D, also known as the winter blues. S.A.D. can be described as a person with:
- Lack of energy
- Poor sleep
- Loss of interest in activities and relationships
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Difficulty concentrating
Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in the neurotransmitter (brain chemical) serotonin and may disrupt the body’s level of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate mood and sleep patterns. That reduction may cause depression.
Circadian rhythm decrease in sunlight in the fall and winter months may affect the body’s internal clock, leading to depressed mood.
The decrease in sunlight in the fall and winter months may affect the body’s internal clock, leading to depressed mood.
Practices that can help
Floating, while a therapy used mostly in the dark might seem counter-intuitive, has the ability to re-harness outer sleep patterns to adjust the natural daylight and can provide a Magnesium rich soak ( a common mineral deficiency with S.A.D patients.) Why this personalized practice has benefited me for such disorders, supplementation of more leafy greens with high Folic Acid, citrus fruits with Vitamin C, root vegetables for a dose of Vitamin D in soups an stews and a healthy Omega 3s fatty acids can help curb the effects of this disorder. Limiting sugar intake and upping our vitamin B-12 can also be helpful. Finally, let’s not forget about exercise! Get out in that cold, embrace the winter, sun or not – There is so much to be grateful for in our beautiful state!