Hypnotherapist Joseph Pond on how to deal with SAD
Winter's fully taken root, but for many people the season is anything but jolly. The early nights and grey skies mean that the ‘winter blues’ are an annual reality to those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Although it seems obvious that a reduction of sunlight causes SAD, the exact mechanism by which the darkness wreaks this havoc is not clearly understood. It’s widely assumed that reduced serotonin production plays a large part.
Perhaps Ebenezer Scrooge was simply suffering from a form of seasonal affective disorder! If so, he would have benefited from practising mindfulness for about 20 minutes a day, not just during the winter, but into the spring and beyond.
It’s not surprising that a Buddhist practice which developed partly as a way of understanding and dealing with human suffering would help reduce depression levels, but the science is catching up with the monks.
For example, one study published in The Frontiers of Human Neuroscience found that after only eight weeks of mindfulness meditation there is a measurable increase of the grey matter mass in the parts of the brain that modulate the serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine systems in the body.
Since we know that meditators are generally more happy than non-meditators, it seems reasonable to suggest that these physical changes to our brain architecture are at least part of the reason why it is such an effective tool for combating SAD.
Also, some of the melancholy that affects people at this time of year may be down to the fact that we’ve reached another ending, and goodbyes can be difficult. We are reminded of goals we didn’t accomplish and uncertain of what the new year will bring. If so, the ghosts of Christmas past and future are haunting you.
Just as trees in winter send their energy to their roots, so you can go inside, back to the source.
The trick is to not let past regrets or future anxieties consume you. Stay in the present. It is a gift.
If you’re suffering from the bah-humbug blues, contact me for a recording which is designed to help you with that.
Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and sits on the National Board of NLP and Hypnotherapy. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org