Many writers are familiar with the winter blues. The cold weather, long periods spent inside, and lack of sunlight can cause feelings of sadness. For some, this can even result in seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of seasonal depression that’s categorized by a persistently low mood, lack of motivation, and listlessness during certain times of the year, most commonly during the fall and winter months, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But those affected by SAD can combat the disorder with a variety of treatments. One such treatment involves light therapy, or the regular use of a light box that mimics natural light. The light box should be used within the first hour of waking in the morning for about twenty to thirty minutes for maximum effect. Light boxes can be purchased online without a prescription.
Make sure to regulate your sleep and get a good night’s rest, as some experts with the National Institute of Mental Health suggest disrupted sleep patterns may contribute to the disorder. Along with getting enough sleep, exercising can help release endorphins that will lift a low mood. Be sure to include plenty of vegetables and fruits in your diet as well.
Writers in particular need to stick to a schedule. Having a daily routine and scheduling regular social outings can provide the same benefits as an active summer calendar. However, don’t expect to be at the top of your game if you’re impacted by SAD. The year moves in a cycle, and so should authors, with nature thriving in the spring and summer months and easing off to take a break in the fall and winter. If the earth doesn’t function at top productivity at all times of the year, authors shouldn’t expect to either. Reducing daily word count and using the cold weather months to plan, whether it be plotting new books or arranging signing opportunities, can provide something for authors to look forward to. Much of the discomfort of SAD can be relieved by being more understanding of what your body needs during this time, which is rest and respect for your body’s limits.
Finally, if all other methods fail, prescription medications can ease the burden of SAD. If you’ve tried the above and seen little to no improvement, there are certain medications that can provide a sense of relief. Above all else, talk to your doctor, and be patient in realizing a lack of productivity doesn’t mean lost time. Winter teaches us to take it slow and to enjoy the calmer moments in life. Acceptance, along with patience, can bring brighter days again.