Seeing the light in the winter


For those of us who stay in New England in the winter, the cold weather can become an emotional challenge, particularly for those of us who thrive on outdoor warm weather activities.

The cold, staying indoors and less exposure to sunlight can develop into a real problem: Seasonal Affective Disorder, (SAD) commonly known as winter depression.

According to the National Mental Health Association, “SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression episodes and related to seasonal variations of light. January and February are the most difficult months for those affected by SAD and younger persons and women are at higher risk.  Symptoms include excessive eating and sleeping and weight gain.”

In addition to the NMHA’s recommendations of phototherapy or bright light therapy, I have some of my own  ideas on how to combat the winter blues:

•            Bundle up and walk on the beach.

•            Drink hot cocoa, tea, cider or a hot toddy.

•            Light your fireplace and sit near it.

•            Write notes to friends and tell them you are thinking of them

•            Clean a drawer, shelf or closet.

•            Sort through your things and pack up what you’re not using to give to friends, a consignment shop, a shelter, etc.

•            Exercise at a gym or at home.

•            Spend time on the internet looking up something that really interests you.

•            Speak with an old friend

•            Dance to music or along with an exercise video.

Sometimes during a snowstorm, I go outside and clean off my car several times as the snow falls. It gets me out in the fresh air, and the snow is pretty to watch.  

I really relate to this beautiful quote in an article by Shimona Tzukernik, “The Month of Kislev – Concealment and Revelation,” posted at  She writes, “Kislev is the month that begins the winter season, when the light of the summer becomes hidden and we enter into a place of spiritual concealment. But it is through our surrender to the darkness that we can reveal and manifest the greatness of who we are.”

 And here’s some ancient wisdom from Ecclesiastes 3:18:

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven 

A time to be born, and a time to die

A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted 

A time to kill and a time to heal

A time to break down, and a time to build up  

A time to weep, and a time to laugh 

A time to mourn, and a time to dance 

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing

A time to get, and a time to lose

A time to keep, and a time to cast away

A time to rend, and a time to sew

A time to keep silence, and a time to speak

A time to love, and a time to hate

A time of war, and a time of peace.”

May we all bring light to the long dark periods of winter.

PATRICIA RASKIN, president of Raskin Resources Productions Inc., is an award-winning radio producer and Rhode Island business owner. She is the host of “The Patricia Raskin” show, a radio and podcast coach, and a board member of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.