Mid way through winter even dynamo-activists can feel a bit sluggish at times. Getting out of bed in the morning becomes a challenge, we tend to consume carbohydrates more frequently, and our mood and general outlook can be as bleak as the weather.
The urge to hibernate and give up might not just be about the upcoming federal election! (for our Australian readers). The weather and winter day length can have a real effect on our mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a diagnosable mood disorder relating to circadian rhythms (our ‘body clock’) getting all out of whack when our exposure to sunlight decreases in the winter months. While the rates of clinical diagnosis in the Australian population are very low, experiences of this phenomenon at the sub-clinical end of the spectrum are nevertheless a yearly fixture in the lives of many. Colloquially known as the ‘winter blues’; combined with flu season and general inactivity because of adverse weather conditions (particularly in the more southerly regions) it can be a significant factor in our ability to sustain our work as activists and volunteers, so much of which is driven and maintained by the emotional experience of passion and hope.
While spring is just around the corner for Australia and the rest of the Southern hemisphere, there are a few things you can do to kick start your activity and bust those blue feelings.
Lean on your support network! Having the blues doesn’t make you abnormal, sometimes a little bit of validation from your buddies can be a great motivator for actioning the solution.
Exercise. Easier said than done in the winter months but why not try a few simple ideas to get you started? Dancing around your living room, an indoors exercise session with friends, swimming a few laps at your local indoor pool, going for a brisk walk when there is a break in the weather – anything that gets you moving is helpful.
Sunlight. Clinical diagnoses of Seasonal Affective Disorder are best treated with artificial light therapy, but there is an easier and cheaper treatment in abundance right outside your door. Why not visit your local botanic gardens for some excellent colour therapy at the same time? Or get involved with a fun outdoor working bee or permablitz?
- Go with the flow. When the seasons change, maybe we should too. Perhaps winter is the ideal time to get cosy and rest more. Don’t book lots of evening meetings that will be harder for people to motivate themselves to attend (including you!) Schedule social time and exercise at the lightest and warmest times of the day. Take time for reflection and prepare for periods of high activity when Spring arrives.
What helps you fend off the winter blues?