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.