Developing a Wellness Lifestyle
Excerpted from: WRAP Plus : [Copeland, M. 2012 Dummerston, VT: Peach Press. pgs 255- 256]
Many people fear the onset of winter because, as the days shorten, they feel more and more and more “depressed.”
Do you experience any of the following signs of insufficient light in the winter months, as the days get shorter and winter approaches?
____ drop in energy level
____ difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
____ impatient with self and others
____ craving sweets and high carbohydrate foods
____ creativity decreases
____ difficulty concentrating and focusing
____ diminished sex drive
____ difficulty getting motivated
____ decrease in productivity
If so, the culprit may be Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as SAD.
You may notice the same effect on cloudy days. You may feel even worse after several cloudy days.
____ I notice that I feel “low” on cloudy days or after several cloudy days.
Researchers have found that consistent daily exposure to bright light through the eyes reduces, or eliminates, these feelings for many people with SAD. A simple program that increases the natural light or bright light through the eyes often helps people feel better.
If you think you may have SAD, discuss it with your physician. While many people have successfully treated themselves, a health care provider with expertise in the field of light therapy will:
- make sure light therapy is appropriate and there are no other medical conditions which need treatment
- work with you to develop a treatment strategy that fits your schedule and lifestyle
- assist with monitoring
- provide additional ideas, and alternative or supplemental treatment options
- give encouragement, and support
If you are taking certain photosensitizing medications, or have a condition which causes you to have sun sensitive skin, such as lupus, a health care provider is essential to developing the treatment process.
____ I am going to discuss light therapy with health care provider. If so, who and why?
If seeing a health care provider about this issue is not an option for you, check out one of the many books on this issue and do an internet search for even more information.
___ Seeing a health care provider about SAD is not an option for me. Therefore, I am going to do the following to address this issue:
In any case, increasing the light through their eyes through outdoor activity helps many people.
Never look directly at sun. The amount of light you get outside is enhanced by reflection off snow, and reduced by reflection off dark objects, such as buildings and trees.
Keeping your living space well lit also helps. Windows should be uncovered during the daylight hours to let sunlight in. If you work inside, work as close to a window as possible.
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Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.