Dog, cat, or fat marten, having a pet to pet is a sweet way to beat the winter blues. (Sweet Photography Studio/Flickr)

Dog, cat, or fat marten, having a pet to pet is a sweet way to beat the winter blues. (Sweet Photography Studio/Flickr)

Tlellagraph: Sweet tips for beating the big SAD monster

By Janet Rigg

Well, how are we all doing? 2018 appears to be going at the same pace as 2017, perhaps a bit faster as it seems the years go as we age. Don’t panic, but it’s nearly the end of January. If you’ve kept your New Year’s resolution until now, good work! Keep it up! If you haven’t, well… there’s always tomorrow, or next year.

It’s dark here in Tlell, so very dark. But the light is slowly returning minutes a day. It’s time for my Public Service Announcement: Seasonal Affective Disorder is on the loose! This nasty little monster hides in your shadow, slowly attaching itself to the very core of your being. It starts to suck the joy out of things you normally love, makes it near impossible to get up in the morning (the SAD monster tends to attach itself to you and to bedsheets with equal tenacity), and can cause TV commercials to inspire monumental waterworks.

The hard part? You may not even know you have a SAD monster attached to you.

The good news? These monsters are fairly easy to defend against, if you know what to do. And, wait for it… We ALL know what to do. Exercise, good sleep, less alcohol, get outside (especially on sunny days), do puzzles or other mind-teasers, spend time with friends and family, eat well, take vitamin D supplements or use a SAD lamp.

Easy, right?

But let’s be real, we all know these things and tend to do very few of them, especially when it’s dark and cold outside. We skip the run because it’s a raging southeaster (or a light drizzle). We go to bed too late because who can tell the difference between 6 p.m. and midnight anymore? We drink a little too much, we stay inside, and we give up on puzzles because the puppy ate two pieces. We avoid our friends and family because they are equally irritable from their own SAD monsters. We eat comfort food, and always forget the supplements. And who knows where that SAD lamp is now anyway…

So I bring to you a list of little-known winter mood boosters. Let’s try something new this year!

Get a pet! Dog, cat, rat, overweight marten – it doesn’t matter what it is, but I think it has to at least have hair (maybe not, but I haven’t seen a lot of therapy lizards in my time). Studies show that the act of petting an animal lowers stress hormones and increases feelings of wellbeing. If you don’t have a pet and don’t want one, take the moment to pet whatever animal you come across (unless it’s a bear or an angry raccoon — happy raccoons are okay).

If you have allergies and the preceding paragraph is the worst advice ever, try eating a banana! No, I haven’t gone bananas, it’s true. Bananas increase our levels of serotonin, one of the primary neurotransmitters involved in feelings of happiness. The iron and fibre in bananas also maintains blood-sugar levels, which helps prevent the Hangries (hunger = anger).

If you hate bananas, try this: have sex! I imagine I need not explain too much about why this works, but a good roll in the hay with a loving, safe person can certainly make the blues go away.

Now that I’ve completely lost all the pet-allergy, banana-hating, sexually abstinent people, I offer one last suggestion: Acts of kindness. Anyone can do this, nobody is allergic, and who can hate kindness? Acts of kindness release serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin and DHEA (involved in increasing sex drive and attractiveness, which can help achieve tip #3, should you desire). Not only are they released in ourselves, but also in the person receiving the kind act.

What kind of acts are in fact kind? That’s subjective, but as Mark Twain said, “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” You’ll know it when you give it, and when you receive it. It just feels right, and it’s like kryptonite to the SAD monster. Email me at sewnart@haidagwaii.net with your mood-boosting tips!

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