Listen To The Cricket
The singing cricket chirps throughout the long night, tolling in the cloudy autumn with its rain. Intent on disturbing the gloomy sleepless soul, the cricket moves towards the bed chirp by chirp.
~ Bei Ju-Yi, Tang dynasty
The fall field cricket sings in the autumn and dies with winter. As a symbol of autumn, crickets are associated with the fate of mankind, loneliness, and sadness. For these reasons, they are used prolifically in Chinese poems.
As we continue through shorter autumn days and move into the darker days of winter, many people find themselves suffering from feelings of sadness or increased moodiness, which may be related to Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
It is very important to address these feelings in order to gain control over them before they result in more serious changes in your mood, appetite, and energy levels. And if you have already been diagnosed with SAD, I hope you are aware of the importance in starting treatment before your symptoms appear.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that’s related to changes in the seasons. It is common for symptoms to start now, in the fall, and continue into winter. Its symptoms include:
- Appetite changes, including cravings for carbohydrates
- Weight gain
While the exact cause is unknown, it is thought that SAD is directly related to decreased sunlight. Light is the main environmental cue used by your body to synchronize the timing of your body’s physiological functions, functions associated with activities that occur in the daytime, and functions associated with activities associated with rest that occur in the nighttime.
Decreased exposure to sunlight may disrupt the timing of these physiological functions or your body’s circadian rhythm, which then in turn affects the release of your hormones, specifically, two hormones which are most closely associated with SAD: serotonin and melatonin. Both of these hormones help regulate your sleep, appetite, and mood.
Decreased sunlight exposure can also affect your level of vitamin D, a hormone as well, which is synthesized in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D may also play a role in depression and other mood disorders. But always check with a physician prior to starting any supplements to be sure you actually have a vitamin D deficiency.
So, in a nutshell, decreased light affects your circadian rhythm or timing of your biological clocks (yes, there are many) which are responsible for the release of your hormones which directly affects how you feel.
How can we manage possible symptoms?
- Take a trip to a tropical location (So simple, right?!)
- Get enough rest
- Take time to relax
- Manage your stress
- Engage in physical activity
- Eat right
- Sit closer to bright windows at home and at work
- Make your living environment brighter and sunnier – open the blinds and curtains
- Get outside even on cloudy days in natural light
Additional interventions include light therapy, exposure to artificial light usually first thing in the morning (under the recommendation and guidance of a physician), talk therapy, which can help you learn how to manage your stress better, change negative thoughts, and learn more healthy ways to cope with a SAD diagnosis, and the consideration of antidepressants if these methods are not effective.
I hope this information was helpful to you. It’s important to consider the effect decreased light has on all of us, and to be proactive with interventions before the effect impacts us negatively.
Just keep in mind that the winter solstice will be here before we know it, bringing the return of light to the Northern Hemisphere. And for my Southern Hemisphere friends, it won’t be long before your first day of summer! Both good reasons to celebrate.🙂
With much love,
For further reading:
And here’s the source for more interesting info on “Chinese Cricket Culture” including cricket fighting and their use as pets. It really is fascinating! http://www.insects.org/ced3/chinese_crcul.html
Images via Pinterest
*originally published Nov. 3, 2015