“WHOEVER WISHES TO PURSUE THE SCIENCE of medicine directly must first investigate the seasons of the year and what occurs in them”- Hippocrates.
“Live in a room full of Light
Avoid Heavy Food
Be moderate in the drinking of wine
Take massage, baths, exercise, and gymnastics
Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or the sound of running water
Change surrounding and take long journeys
Strictly avoid frightening ideas
Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements
Listen to music.”
- A. CORNELIUS CELSUS, PHYSICIAN, FIRST CENTURY AD.
Driving to the airport to pick up a friend and collaborator who is an AI Evangelist was the last thought on my mind. We just sprung forward a concept known as Daylight Saving Time a few days ago. I stared at the Mirror as if staring at my soul; this quote came to mind. “In times of change, Learners will inherit the Earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exits’. A few minutes later, I was driving down the road with “an impenetrable blanket of mist that swallowed the road ahead. I was thinking about the revolutionary idea of Willam Willett. William Willett struggled to understand why his fellow citizens wasted the best part of a summer day in bed. Could Englishmen, he wondered, ever be convinced to wake up earlier? “No matter how many little points in the exterior might be improved by the sacrifice of a bit of Light somewhere inside…the gift was never permitted, for he looked on Light, especially sunlight, as all important. The revolutionary idea of DST came to him during his morning ride! However, in the last decade, evidence for the Health Hazard of twice-yearly time switching has grown, and countries still using daylight Saving Time must decide which of the two systems is preferable. I agree with Marlow and other health experts that Williams DST is bad for our brain and health. I argued that permanent standard time increases exposure to morning sunlight, which is associated with improved sleep. With another mindful breath, I noticed the blanket of darkness appeared to have been removed by a higher being and allowed a breathtaking panoramic view. Sunray has shown intensively as if the sun was a few meters away. As the sun shone brightly, the images of my childhood flashed in front of my eyes as if I were watching a vivid moment and being transported into the past. Growing up in sub-Saharan Africa was a joyful experience despite its political and economic turbulence. I can truthfully boast that during the Raining seasons, I could hear heavy raindrops pounding heavily and strong winds blowing and pulling down trees and, at times, incessantly raining for weeks and playing in the puddle like a scientist in their laboratory. During the Harmattan Season, the weather felt cold, lips dried and sometimes cracked as I played football with friends in our courtyard. Winter Blues wasn’t in my consciousness at the time. I only read about the winter, spring, summer, and autumn seasons in the pages of my geography books. I recalled also reading “Four seasons fill the measure of the year; There are four seasons in the mind of man” by John Keats. Now the four seasons are a reality in front of eyes. I wished I had prepared for the harsh winter seasons of Life!
In late November last year, winter descended upon us in North America. I woke up from my sleep consciousness and felt refreshed but came into the reality of Longer nights and shorter days. Darkness enveloped everywhere around dead silence, and you could hear a pin drop in the house. I switched on the Light as usual and scribbled some thoughts in my journal. According to the weather report, we will be experiencing extreme weather, with temperatures dropping to -30Celsius. The bedroom felt cold. After a few minutes of meditation, dressed in my winter running clothes, seconds before heading out into freezing temperatures, this quote came to mind; “winter no longer fills me with foreboding. Harsh environments foster creativity, and the winter in the North is about as challenging as you can find on Earth. I opened the door, felt the extreme cold across my face, and closed the door as I disappeared into the abyss. My next-door neighbor asked who opened the Fridge this morning. I responded I am going into nature to find out. The leafless trees appeared frail to the Strong winter wind, and I wasn’t dissuaded and focused on nature musical rhythm of nature to pace myself; I ran one of my fastest 5km, not because I am that athletic but because “it’s only cold when you are standing still.”
What exactly is SAD? Sorry, I wasn’t talking about the “Standard American Diet” I meant Seasonal Affective Disorder, in order words, Winter Blues. According to Norman Rosenthal, MD( who has suffered from Winter Blues), we know that, to a greater or lesser degree, the great majority of the population experiences seasonal changes in Well-being and Behavior in areas such as energy, eating patterns, and mood. At the end of the spectrum are those who have few, if any, seasonal changes. They are those who experience mild changes that can easily be accommodated in the course of their everyday lives. Another group finds these changes a nuisance- not worth taking to the physician, but troublesome nonetheless. This group may be suffering from what is commonly called Winter Blue. At the other end of the spectrum are people with SAD, whose changes are so powerful that they produce significant problems.
I took another mindful breath and skimmed through the meditation section ( I previously read Supermind by the same author, a fascinating book). Could this explain why I barely noticed my mild Winter Blues? (Confirmation bias for me!). Meditation may be helpful because it restores the crystal clear consciousness that people experienced nightly when they slept long enough to have two periods of sleep with an awake interval between.
“It is certainly freezing,” said Peggotty.
“Everybody must feel it so.”
“I feel it more than other people,’ Saud Mrs. Gummidge
– CHARLES DICKENS, DAVID COPPERFIELD
Core Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:
• Reduced Energy
• Increased eating, including carbohydrate cravings
• Disturbed sleep
• Lowered sex drive
• Thinking problems, such as difficulty in concentration and processing information
• Mood Problems, particularly depression
According to Norman, what causes Seasonal Affective Disorder are three factors: inherent vulnerability, Environment, specifically light deprivation, and Stress (The etiology is not exhaustive!)
Treatments (How can you combat Winter Blues)
“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”- Charles Dudley Warner.
• Light Therapy
• Changing the Environment
• Diet and Exercise
• Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements
• Watch Out for Alcohol and Marijuana
• Stress Management
• Psychotherapy/Antidepressant medication
• Seek professional help if you have severe symptoms, please
YOU NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP IF
• Your functioning is impaired significantly
• You have significant feelings of depression
• You notice physical impairment during the winter, such as changes in sleep, eating habits, and energy level.
• You feel like Life is not worth living
• If you are feeling suicidal
THE GOOD NEW SUMMERTIME
I rise at six and call it seven,
The Luncheon whistle blows at eleven,
The dinner music gets in tune
Along about mid-afternoon.
At four o’clock, I start for Newry,
For half an hour, I drive like fury,
Arriving there at half-past three,
Which is a great surprise to me.
The sun through advertised to set,
Remains above the sleepless yet.
Long after curfew, I still hear
The sweltering bleaches howl and cheer.
I had a nightmare. Waking then,
I saw the hour was hardly ten
And twilight scarce began to fall.
I was but a daymare, after all.
-Singer-poet Hormer Balmy
ARE YOU curious how your stacks up with developing new healthy habits? I have limited offers, Free Coaching Consultation, and a Mastermind program on my website. (http://www.niranojomomdservices.com) We may not be able to use more than 10% of our brain; however, would you like to develop healthy reading habits? If the answer is Yes, join the 50 Books Reading Challenge 2023! We are all part of a growing community, right? You’ll have to submit your e-mail address, but we’ll only include you on our mailing list if you ask us to!
Support Groups for SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA)-www.sad.org.ulk
SAS in Sweden –www.sadinssweden.com
Winter Blues, Norman Rosenthal, MD