All of us feel the loss of daylight to a certain extent. For some, it may be occasional sluggishness, less motivation to get outside and exercise, or less of a desire to spend time with friends and family. Others may feel even deeper withdrawal, or experience less control over anxiety and the sometimes overwhelming responsibilities of daily life. To a certain extent, the culture has tried to address this by consistently packing in times of remembrance, celebration, and family during the darkest months of the year – but by the time it’s all over (or even during the often stressful holidays), there are still many months of darker days left and it is usually at this time that folks express the desire for more fun, more joy, more light.
Aside from creating internal tension by working the same schedule regardless of season every single week of the year, darkness literally affects our mood, in a pattern that has been fairly well characterized and is known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This pattern can carry a significant depression along with it, though most often it is a period of withdrawal, sadness, and perhaps increased anxiety whose chief feature is that it occurs as the daylight wanes.
So what can be done? Naturally, being outside is extremely important. Feeling sunlight directly on the skin, for even 30 minutes a day, can have substantial benefits! Some choose to install and operate full-spectrum lighting in their homes. As an extension of this, folks also supplement with between 1,000 and 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily. This important nutrient is essential for those who suffer from a seasonal sadness pattern. But there are some specific medicinal plants that can reinforce these sun-seeking impulses, while at the same time buffering the symptoms of sluggishness, sadness, anxiety and withdrawal. All of this put together helps us not only feel better during the winter months, but also perform better at work, play, and family gatherings.