Seasonal Awareness

Winter is finally upon us! While many of us like to get out, do some snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, or whatever else you may like to do in the snow, many of us are suffering from seasonal depression.

It may not effect us all in the same manner, but seasonal depression is a very real affliction that can have a large range of severity. Some get clinically depressed, unable to function at their normal capacity. Some get grumpy, because they go to work when it's dark, and come home and it's dark again. Sucks.

Even still, it's interesting to know what causes this problem, and it may not be what you think. It's not just because you can't get outside as much as you'd like to, although that does contribute. It's due to our internal clocks being out of sync with our normal schedules. This is called Circadian rhythm. If we're used to seeing 14 hours of daylight on average, and the average cuts all the way down to 9 hours, that's a huge difference.

Consider this: While our days are measured by 24 hours, the average human stays awake for 16 of those hours, leaving 8 hours of sleep. This is a normal entrained Circadian Rhythm based on our living environment. Humans who have all sense of time cues(no clocks, no difference in lighting or temperature) removed tend to stay fairly close to a 24 hour Circadian cycle, although 25 hours was not uncommon either.

So for those of us who live closer to the arctic circle have a greater chance of being afflicted, while those closer to the equator are less likely to suffer from it. Interestingly enough, there are ways to fight off this problem. It has a lot to do with Psychology and how we train our brains to understand our changing surroundings(and our changing circadian rhythm).

On those dreary cloudy days, don't let that deter you from getting outside! Don't let the snow make you think there isn't anything worth doing! Simple things like taking up hobbies to keep your mind sharp can make the winter months that much better. It may seem like escapism(and in a way it is), but it allows you to bypass these effects, making seasonal depression less likely to afflict you.

So, what did we learn today class? Seasonal Depression can be a really crappy thing to deal with. But it doesn't mean you HAVE to live with it! Just find some ways to keep your mind occupied(reading informational blogs is just ONE suggestion) and things will turn out better than expected.