Tag Archives: SAD

Fresh Start

As Spring transitions into Summer it’s easy to forget that Winter even exists. The sun shine stays longer, you can see flowers, trees and other plants coming to life and everything just feels a little bit more relaxed. New Years is the traditional time to set goals or start a new positive, healthy habit. As we all know, the running joke for New Year’s Resolutions is that the majority of people abandon them by February or March. If we know the season’s have the ability to affect our moods, productivity and motivation, then maybe we should aim to set our goals for a little later in the year.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Traditionally it begins and ends about the same time every year. The Mayo Clinic states, “Most people with SAD’s symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” The Canadian Mental Health Association has research that suggests between 2 and 3 per cent of the general population may have Seasonal Affective Disorder, another 15 per cent will have a less severe experience called the “winter blues.” Lowered energy and being moody aren’t exactly a recipe for success when you’re trying to achieve your goals. A few tips for easing your SAD or winter blues include: spending more time outside during the day, keeping your curtains open during the day, sitting near or in natural light and building physical activity into your life before your symptoms start. If you think you are affected by SAD, talk to your doctor. You can find out more information here.

Our physical surroundings and environment have a direct link to your mood, productivity and energy levels. In the winter the sun rises later and sets earlier not leaving much, if any, opportunity for natural Vitamin D. The Dana Foundation has found, “Adequate Vitamin D levels will elevate your mood, improve your memory and increase other cognitive abilities.” The aforementioned positive effects of Vitamin D are what start to happen and continue throughout spring and summer, which is why it is the perfect time to set and complete your goals. With an elevated mood you are more resilient if you have a set-back throughout your process. An improved memory and increase of other cognitive abilities can aid you in and make you more receptive to change. Fresh air and being in nature also increases your energy levels, research has found that being surrounded by nature, in fresh air, increases energy in 90% percent of people. The smells that bein


g in nature provides have also be proven to release stress and increase happiness. A few examples being roses which promote relaxation, jasmine and lavender can increase your mood and lower anxiety, pine trees increases relaxation and decreases stress. The less anxiety you have, the less you will second guess yourself, the more you will reach for your goals!


In addition to Vitamin D, fresh air and the natural scents that energize and increase our mood, in the spring, you can physically see new plants or trees growing or flowers blossoming. In the summer is when we get to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Around us we can see new beginnings and we are nourishing ourselves with fresh, replenishing, immune and energy boosting produce that are good for our bodies and minds. In the spring and summer, with more flora and fauna, you feel more apart of something. More people are outside, everything feels alive. It is almost hard to not be productive when you can see everything moving, changing and growing around you. Whether your goal, new habit or beginning is small or large, personal motivation, energy and positivity are all important factors when it comes achieving your goals. Feeling apart of something, having the opportunity to be outdoors, getting fresh air, naturally boosting your mood and energy can make your goals feel attainable.

Spring and summer are a fantastic time for a fresh start. You are physically and emotionally set-up for success. Take advantage of natural motivators this month, exceed your expectations. “Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.” —Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty

Written by Valerie Chalmers
Co Chair of Promotions & Marketing Committee, Niagara Leadership Summit for Women
Co Host of The Empowered Millennials Podcast
Member of Promotions & Marketing Committee, No Fixed Addresshttp://nfaniagara.com
Member of the St. Catharines Culture Plan Sub Committee





ScienceDirect – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494409000838

NCBI, PubMed – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19370942

Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/25/spring-scents_n_5021358.html , http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/20/winter-scent-health-benefits_n_4473935.html

How Many Ways Can You Say Tired?

Can you hear that thumping? Oh, that’s just the sound of my butt dragging.

It is without fail, every year around this time that I start to fall apart. When my ‘Get up and Go’ Gets up and Leaves.

I’m Tired. Knackered. Haggard. Stale. Sleepy. Cream-Crackered. Ok, you get it. Oh wait! I’m also cranky, grumpy, irritable and irrational and finding myself jealous of babies and cats because they can nap whenever they want. And I’ve started to beg my husband to let me be a stay at home house-wife. Yeah. Me. The feminist.

Yep- it’s that time of year again! When you are cursing the stupid Daylight Savings Time insanity! (Seriously?? Is it just me, or are they stretching the ‘Fall Back’ further and further? I have been counting down the days since September!!!) And you find yourself looking up your symptoms of exhaustion desperately hoping it’s the weather and not some un-planned pregnancy or that you are developing animal instincts to hibernate.

I knew that the changes in weather can affect you and your moods but I had never bothered to look up whether there is an explanation or a definition of it, as it’s never been this bad for me before. But they do have a definition. It’s called ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’. This means for some people, they are vulnerable to a type of depression that can last from Autumn until Spring.

That’s right- the definition of how I’ve been feeling is literally-SAD.

SAD that I have to get out of bed-EVER. SAD that I can’t sleep at night even though I’m KNACKERED, SAD that when I wake up at 7 a.m. it looks like three in the morning. SAD that the bags under my eyes have carry-ons and that I’m pretty sure I have carpet burn from dragging my behind all the time.

But don’t worry folks! Apparently we are not alone! Research in Ontario suggests that between 2% and 3% of the general population may be affected by SAD. Another 15% have a less severe experience described as the “winter blues.” Typically they say that while this causes some ‘discomfort’ it should not be incapacitating. (Seriously though—keep an eye on these symptoms as this can become a debilitating condition that can seriously affect your everyday life and prevent you from functioning normally. It can also on a rarer occasion strike during the summer months too. O-o)

So you ask…what are the symptoms of SAD? From what I understand they can be: Difficulty waking up in the morning, the tendency to oversleep or over eat (great- I get the dreaded weight gain too), morning sickness, lack of energy, difficultly concentrating, withdrawal from family or friends and a decreased sex drive. (Still judging my fear of this being an un-planned pregnancy??!!- and seriously decreased sex drive to boot?!)

So you ask…what can be done??

Well- they have a whole bunch of suggestions on the internet for winter-based SAD- things like light therapy, medication, taking melatonin or vitamin D. I also read some simple things such as raising your blinds to let whatever sunlight this winter shares in, to go outside for at least half an hour a day (does this include my drive into work with the heater on? Cause you know- it’s COLD outside!), exercise- change up your routine, connect with ‘sunny’ people, look at the color orange (orange is cheering- in fact the smell of an orange is cheering for me)

These are all great suggestions. But I ALSO found a whole bunch of ones that seem like they would be pretty entertaining. What better way to perk up a bit than with a big or little belly laugh?? After all- ever notice how when you’re over tired everything seems funnier? Here’s just some that I ‘borrowed’ and may or may not try:

1. Go through a drive-through and ask for your food ‘to go’.
2. Say someone wrote ‘Gullible’ on the ceiling and see who looks up.
3. Eat a baby corn like a full sized corn.
4. Do what the voices in your wife’s/husbands head tell you too.
5. Go through the humor section on Pinterest. Good luck getting ANYTHING done from here on in.
6. When a telemarketer calls you, try to sell them something.
7. Draw faces on all the eggs in your fridge- make them look scared!
8. With a serious face, order a diet water every time you go out to eat.

I could go on, but honestly— I’m too tired. So I’m off to bed. And this time, instead of counting sheep- maybe I’ll count my blessings instead.