This Little Light

Summer weather may be hanging on in your part of the world, as it is here in the mid-Atlantic, but we are still losing daylight. I was hoping to sunbathe in our backyard today, but my hubby pointed out that the patio no longer receives any sunshine! The sun barely makes it over the tops of the poplars behind our house now.

Many of us are sensitive to the loss of daylight. At this time of year, it's very common to feel SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is the technical term for this yearly depression that descends as the light leaves our part of the world and heads to the Southern Hemisphere. It may show up as anxiety, loss of energy and enthusiasm, fatigue, aches and pains, sadness, or even a debilitating depression.

Of course, if you are suffering from severe depression or anxiety, treatment by a professional is in order. But if you are just feeling a little bit off, there are steps you can take that may help.

1) Get more light into your days. From the time you get up in the morning, switch on all the lights in whatever room you're in. You can purchase full-spectrum lighting which mimics the rays of the sun and can help restore your energy levels and decrease moodiness. But there is nothing like the actual sun for lifting one's mood. Get outside and absorb those rays whenever possible.

2) Move your body. Exercise is extremely effective for fighting depression and anxiety. You may not feel like moving, but once you get started, you are guaranteed to feel better. Ask a friend to go for a walk, or a jog, or a hike. Sign up for a dance class. Mow the lawn or rake some leaves. Find a local bootcamp you can join. Get sweaty to get happy!

3) Breathe deeply. Increasing oxygen will also help relieve both anxiety and depression. You can do this while you walk, vacuum, mop, garden, relax, read, paint, or drive. In other words, you do not need to sit in lotus pose on a buckwheat zafu in order to meditate. Just take some deep breaths, wherever you happen to be, and feel the immmediate effects.

4) Pet an animal. You will probably want to find something furry, as a fish is just not going to cut it. Try petting puppies, kittens, rabbits, llamas, or horses. You can pet your own animals or visit a friend and pet theirs. You can volunteer at a local shelter and pet the homeless animals. Maybe even adopt one while you're at it. Research has shown that petting animals lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and increases feelings of wellbeing.

5) Laugh it up. There is no medicine like laughter. Watch some comedies on television, visit a comedy club, or call your funniest relative on the phone. The internet is another great source of comedy.

These are just a few of the possibilities that might cheer you up during the darker days of fall. If you have more ideas to share, please post them below!