Winter Has Left The Building

I have never seen nor read Game of Thrones, but I have been around enough office water coolers to
recognize the catchphrase, “Winter is coming!”

Good ole Ned Stark might have been a bit dramatic, but with good reason.

The North was coming off a 9-year long summer and people were just laying around enjoying
themselves. Even Tony Robbins would have had a tough time motivating this crowd.

For most people in the real world, “winter is coming” is simply a catchphrase that lives in the zeitgeist.
But for a small percentage of people, me included, winter can be associated with isolation, loneliness,
and depression. So, when I hear, “winter is coming,” I cannot help but feel a sense of dread wash over

Winter means shorter days and longer nights. This means more darkness. Darkness can contribute to
depression. It also means colder weather. Colder weather can make it more difficult to go outside. Being trapped indoors can lead to isolation and loneliness.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you might be experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective
disorder or SAD. People also refer to it as seasonal depression. SAD affects about 6% of the U.S.

Over twenty million people!

That is nothing to sneeze at.

According to Wikipedia, “SAD is a mood disorder subset in which people who typically have normal
mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year. It
is commonly, but not always, associated with the reductions or increases in total daily sunlight hours
that occur during the summer or winter. Common symptoms include sleeping too much, having little to
no energy, and overeating.”

Like any form of depression, it can be hard to shake and even harder to understand. In my experience, symptoms of SAD develop slowly over time. For the past couple of months, I have had very little motivation to go to the gym. I was finding it harder to get out of bed in the morning and I have found myself craving unhealthy foods. Most days I push through it but over time it takes its toll.

The good news is that SAD does not last forever.

This past weekend we set the clocks ahead for daylight savings. Even though most people were not
happy about losing an hour of sleep before the work week starts, people that live with SAD could
appreciate it for what it is.

Quite literally, a light at the end of the tunnel.

When I left the office last night, it was still light out and it took me by surprise. It immediately changed
my mood and gave me a feeling of relief. Just like that, the idea of going to the gym does not seem as daunting. Getting out of bed has been a of lot easier. Heck, I even ordered a salad today. It made me feel less guilty about the bacon cheeseburger and fries that followed.

Baby steps.

We might not have a 9-year long summer but for now, winter is not coming.

At least not yet...

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