Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Cloudy With a Chance of...Sadness

As a newlywed, I kept a “diary “ of sorts. It wasn’t one where I chronicled our daily activity per se. Instead it was a diary noting the weather, what we ate, and discussions we had. It was a carryover from an assignment I had in one of my early college psychology classes.

After Tom and I talked a bit about what we discovered through the exercise, we decided to never make a major decision or discuss a problem between us at night or when it was raining. 
We tended to disagree heartily under those conditions. We were each prone to dig our heels in and not listen to the other person. 

We worked through things much better when it was sunny or at least during daylight hours. 

This snow fell January 13. It's still there.
Silly? I don’t think so. We took it pretty seriously and I think it helped us navigate those early years of marriage. 

I hadn’t thought about it until Tuesday’s Bible study. It came up in a discussion and made me realize how much the weather influences my mood. This past week I struggled through several days of feeling a bit “down.” I wasn’t particularly depressed. I was just feeling sad. 

It was snowy and cold and I couldn’t get out of the house.

I missed Tom. 
My energy level was virtually nonexistent.
I felt a little achy and wondered if I was maybe coming down with something.
I was better during the day, but as the sun went down, so did my emotional barometer.

So I did a little research. Though my mood swing has been temporal, there is something called Seasonal Affect Disorder. (Yes, it spells SAD…go figure) I had of course heard of it before, but for some reason I thought you had to live in Seattle to experience it. The truth is, SAD affects many people everywhere. And there are tons of articles supporting the notion that bad weather has a defined effect on your emotions. 

Some of the articles I read referenced the changes in atmospheric pressure as it not only changes our emotions but, can cause pain and even put pressure on our sinuses.

Cold and snow? Definite cues to our little bodies to slow down, forget about being productive and just snuggle under the covers, watch old movies, and drink hot chocolate. Not that any of that is bad. But when it interferes with your life and livelihood and self-esteem? Then you are snuggling a bit too much.

Okay…the truth. None of this was all that new to me. Remember, I’m the one who did a bit of this “research” on myself over 45 years ago.

My neighbor cleared my drive,
but I got a bit of exercise shoveling the walk.
But it is a good reminder that I have the ability to make changes. Just as Tom and I learned to save serious discussions for sunny daytime hours when possible, I can make changes in my routines. 

I am turning on the lights…lots of them in the evening.
I am getting outside. Short walks or parking further away from the front door at the grocery offer me short bursts of exercise, fresh air, and renewed energy.
And I’m scheduling my work time to write for the early hours of the day when the sun is shining.

But I think I’ll hold onto the fleece throw and hot chocolate for the late evening when I can catch at least one good old movie before hitting the hay.

Does the weather change your mood? What do you do to change your emotional track? 



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