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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

The Last Word

'Tis The Season to be... SAD? — (December 2001) The dark Autumn days are here. And soon, the dark Winter days will follow. Of course, what this means to those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, is that we have to be on guard. I know MS brings with it bouts of depression, and I can only imagine how much more difficult it becomes to get through the Winter.

As I touched upon in my last article ( Finding (Inner) Strength), supportive friends and family are a gold mine. Of course I mean those who understand the chemical imbalance which overtake our more rational selves. Not those who yell "snap out of it" because they truly don't know what it feels like.

There are many factors which can help alleviate SAD. Support and comfort of loved ones is right at the top of the list. A few other things which have helped me (and are currently helping me!) are:

Activity. Get moving and keep moving. Yes the days are shorter and darker, but make sure you're out there to see and enjoy it at least once a day. You don't have to have a full schedule, just have something to do. Get outside and breathe the outdoor air. The crispness of the season's air carries a healing power with it. If you can't go outside, get as close as possible. Throw open those window blinds and make sure you flood your rooms with as much natural light as possible!

Alcohol. It's a depressant. If possible, refrain from drinking or, if you must, make sure it's very little. Nothing will put you in a blue funk faster than overloading on the so-called "good cheer" brought about by liquor.

Chocolate. Sweets may give you a quick boost of energy, but they are, in the end, bad for you. Don't substitute sugar for real food. Get plenty of vegetables and ensure you've got your fill of your daily calcium and vitamin C. As with all things, moderation is also key. You don't want to get bogged down by over-eating resulting in listlessness and low energy as your body attempts to burn it off.

Rest. Your body needs to sleep, especially during Winter. Don't fight it. When your body tells you its time to take a nap, do so. What you may not have tried is to take a nap with the daylight streaming into your room. Don't trick your body into believing it's night time, just train it to know that if you take a nap in the afternoon, 8 hours is not required.

Exercise. It's good for you. Whether you have the strength to put in a full effort, or even just a brisk walk, every little bit helps. Personally, I walk a bit every day (about 45 minutes worth) and try to work a few repetitions of basic 10 pound weights. I do as much as I can and the benefit is immediate.

Leisure. Life itself can be quite depressing, so don't waste time watching it on television or in the theatres! If you must spend time in front of the tube, make it light entertainment. Better yet, put on some of your favorite music -anything that'll lift your spirits!

Candles. This is something new I stumbled upon this year. Candles aren't just for birthday cakes! The soothing energy that comes off of them, and the warmth it envelops a room in, really does bring a calming effect to any place. Perhaps because flame/ fire does have a connection with nature, the light it gives out can be considered natural. And since you normally expect to have candles burning at night, the fact that it's dark doesn't seem to enter your conscious mind.

There are, I'm sure, plenty of other ways to keep depression and Blue Feelings at bay. But, these are the ones that work for me. Music has always been my escape, and over the years I've added to the list. The latest entry, Candles, have surprised me with their effectiveness. Because of them, I've found myself more upbeat during the evenings. This has translated into my willingness to exercise with barbells (with music in the background of course) thus boosting my energy. Of course, being calm and at rest really does help me get a good night's sleep (snuggling with my fiancee, Chantale, also helps tremendously). And being well-rested, of course, is another good defense against the blues.

I hope you have a warm, safe, and especially upbeat Winter. Please feel free to share any of your own stories of success!

(The Last Word (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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