Thursday, February 20, 2014
February may be the month for hearts and chocolates, but it is also a month when people experience decreased exposure to sunlight.
S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) caused by the loss of light, increases feelings of sadness and can result in loss of sleep, irritability, overeating and difficulty in concentrating. A decreased amount of light passes through the eyes during fall and winter, which reduces the release of serotonin, an important brain chemical. Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, has also been linked to S.A.D. Depressive symptoms can begin to occur when this happens.
Winter blues is similar to S.A.D. in some ways, but the symptoms are reduced. Winter Worsening is another condition that deepens over the winter months.
By February, grievers who enter the depth of winter already sad, already depressed and feeling that their grief is getting worse, bring with them intense feelings of loss that they've been carrying for an undetermined length of time.
Often grief is misinterpreted or misunderstood. Their symptoms may be similar to those of S.A.D., Winter Blues and even Winter Worsening, but their recovery can be quite different.
Grieving through winter months is often very difficult. Grievers look for ways to survive their personal loss. The root words for survival come from the Latin words 'sur' meaning beyond and 'vivo' meaning live. To survive, then, means to find the resources (experiences and knowledge and support) to 'live beyond' personal loss.
Dull winter days are not very helpful. The landscape reflects personal emotions: colourless landscape, various shades of grey against grey, bushes and trees against grey sky, black tree trunks of various size as they poke through white grey snow.
The elements often offer uncertainty in weather conditions. When you do decide to get out of the house and go shopping or visiting, you are limited.
So what can a griever do during the month of February? Here are a few hints that might be helpful:
*Find a suitable place or person with whom to share your feelings
*Buy an amaryllis and watch it grow
*Go to a flower show
*Look through a seed catalog and plant a winter garden or indoor flower pots
*Buy a bright coloured piece of clothing
*Volunteer in a children's program
*Visit a senior's residence
*Purchase a vanilla scented candle
*Leave extra lights on in the house – hang light reflectors in windows – place mirrors in noticeable places.
*Make a habit of going outside for a walk or just to clean the snow off the veranda when the sun is shining
*Keep your curtains open during the day as much as possible
*If you haven't bought a computer yet, make the investment, it’s a great way to get past you and into the world
*If you have a computer and have email, send out ten. When people respond, "You've got mail waiting" is like a breath of fresh air in the morning."
*Choose several positive people and send them an e-greeting card
Even though depression may last longer than winter months, one can anticipate the warm sunny days of spring as an additional resource. (http://grievegrow.homestead.com).
Keep on keeping on!
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