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The Psychological Effects of Falling Back This Weekend

It’s here! This weekend ends Daylight Saving Time (DST), and we “fall back” to standard time this Sunday, November 6th, at 2 a.m. So that means you’ll have an extra hour of sleep or an extra hour of whatever fun-filled adventure you have planned (of course only if you’re in an area that observes DST, some places don’t).

Now I know it’s nice that we all “gain an hour” in the fall, but DST can have negative effects on us. So what does DST this time of year do to you and me?

It takes most of us about a week to adjust to the DST change. The body tracks day-to-day behavioral and physiological events with light-dark cycles. This is known to as the circadian clock. The Monday after the time change, your circadian clock gets off track so it needs to reset itself, which takes days.

Sleep patterns are also thrown off track with the time change. Quality sleep and enough sleep are both important for mental and physical health. Troubled sleep is linked to depression, memory and learning deficiencies, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and it weakens the body’s ability to fight infections.

As fall moves into winter, do you ever feel like the extra darkness and colder weather is affecting your mood? You’re probably nodding your head – I know it effects me. Getting enough sunlight is very important and this time change takes an hour of daylight from the afternoon, so that’s less time we can spend outside running, playing, exercising… whatever you like to do.

The “sunshine vitamin” (vitamin D) can protect against many things, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Not only that, sunlight helps with depression.

Psychologically, shorter days with less sunshine combined with winter can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a condition that typically starts later in the fall and continues through the winter with symptoms of unhappiness, low energy, loss of interest in work, reduced sex drive, and weight gain so make sure you:

* Eat healthy
* Drink enough water
* Avoid, or at least cut back on, drinks with caffeine
* Increase your exposure to bright light
* Increase your physical activity during the day
* Increase Vitamin D intake: The two best ways to get the Vitamin D are to get adequate sun exposure (15 to 30 minutes per day) & take vitamin D supplements

That’s probably more information than you really wanted to know about Daylight Saving Time. Anyway, there you have it. Enjoy your extra hour of sleep this Sunday night!

 

The Power of Acceptance

While reading a bit about anxiety and depression the other day, one thing in particular stuck with me. This reading stressed the importance of acceptance. When we are able to accept our struggles, we are able to work with them rather than against them. This particular reading used a fantastic metaphor to describe the acceptance of anxiety.

Anxiety was portrayed as a chimpanzee who scratches at the door of a woman’s house. The woman panics and locks all of the doors and windows in the home for fear that the chimpanzee may hurt her. With each lock that the woman fastens, the chimpanzee grows in strength and size until he is as big as King Kong. The woman realizes that the only way to calm the beast is to open the door. When the door opens, the chimpanzee shrinks to the size of a baby and crawls into the woman’s arms softly. After the chimpanzee realizes that the woman has nothing to give to him and will not fight him, he exits the door and wanders down the street to the next home.

Acceptance of our struggles is difficult, but powerful.

Perhaps we should think of our struggles as the chimpanzee described above. Think about how when the woman faced her fear and accepted the chimpanzee, he became manageable, and cooperative. Anxiety and depression are much the same. We should all try to recognize that anxiety or depression are not undefeatable monsters, but rather something you can partner with to become a stronger individual. acceptance

Those of us who experience deep pain are, in my opinion, blessed. We have the opportunity to grow and learn from the pain that we feel. We can use our own experiences to become a better person and to help others who may be struggling. I believe that we see the world differently than most.

It is important to remember that no matter what our struggles are, we are not defined by them.

Rather than saying “I am depressed” try saying “I feel depressed”. Rather than saying “I am stupid” try saying “I struggle with this sometimes and may need some help”. I say this because we are more than a diagnosis, a medication, or a label. We are made up of so much more than that. We are mothers, artists, athletes, students, or even a friendly face at the market. We should appreciate and accept all the parts that make us a whole because, without them, we would not be the unique creations that each of us are.

 

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