A three-part cure for S.A.D.

I have a three-part cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is built on three theories.

Theory one: S.A.D. is mostly C.E.F. – Cabin Effing Fever. I know about cabin fever and its cure from growing up in Minnesota. If you wake up in your house-cabin, walk 20 feet to your car-cabin, drive to your work-cabin, and then drive back at night to your house-cabin, you have a 100% chance of catching cabin fever and getting sad – someone who stands outside and smokes three times a day will probably get more fresh air than you will. That’s the physical part.

Theory two: S.A.D is most debilitating when there’s a lack of exercise for the mind – following a TV series or a football team is not enough. To transport yourself happily from Fall to Spring, you need to learn Spanish or Georgian folk songs or how to build a bicycle from scrap. That’s the mental part.

Theory three is about social exercise. When it’s warmer, it’s much easier to find yourself talking to sidewalkful of excited Norwegian tourists, or even to just see excited Norwegian tourists walking around. In winter, you have to actively dream up excuses to go find other people to be around – like returning stuff you bought to the grocery store. Customer Service is always happy to see you. So shop every day instead of once a week. Go to the cafe every morning, even if you don’t like coffee. Join a hiking group and a game night. Volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and at a homeless shelter. Add one or two obligations and a slew of drop-in-when-you-want groups to your calendar. That’s the warm-fuzzy part.

Give the three-part cure a try this winter – go outside every day and stay outside until the idea of going inside makes you beam with joy. Find a good mental challenge that will light up your mind for the next four months. Hang out with friendly people 3-4 times a week. If winter still makes you sad, let me know, and I’ll buy you a chocolate bar.

Join us this winter and help stamp out cabin fever.

4 thoughts on “A three-part cure for S.A.D.

  1. I like to get some of my exercise, warm-fuzzies, and mental stimulation during the day while I’m at work. About every hour, I get up from my computer, walk downstairs, say hello to a few people in their offices, walk back upstairs, and focus much better on my work. There’s a small gym at work, so get on one of the machines for 20 minutes during my lunch break. If I didn’t have a gym, I’d go up and down the stairs a few more times or walk a couple of laps around the building (inside or outside, depending on the weather). The mental stimulation comes from trying to find new and better ways to do my job. I like to stop at the Y on my way home and do an exercise class. I’m 62 years old and somewhat overweight, but I’m happy most of the time and am thankful for better health since I’ve increased my exercise.

  2. Tom, I love, love, love this. Once I’m outside, no matter how dreary the weather, I feel better. The trick, of course,is getting oneself out there.
    Each winter I vow to work on a novel, with little success – maybe thinking of writing as an antidote to SAD is the way to go?
    Thanks.
    Rebecca

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