New Mexico sceneWe have 300 days of sunshine here in New Mexico. Yes, I admit it; I’m spoiled. Several years ago when we wrote Seasonal Affective Disorder for Dummies, we got a lot of teasing about that. People would ask, how can a couple of psychologists from one of the sunniest places in the world write about a disorder that involves lack of sunshine?

This is the time of year that many people begin to experience symptoms of SAD. For those in our hemisphere, days are shorter. Most communities turn the clocks back and darkness comes earlier. Commonly, people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder feel sleepy, have depressed moods, and crave carbohydrates. Their tendency is to become less active, an unfortunate symptom that may actually make their condition worse. That’s because SAD involves a biological response to a lack of sunlight and the best place to get sunshine is outside—even when it’s cold. For those who are not blessed with abundant sunshine, going outside on cloudy days can still help. Despite clouds, the light outside is sufficient to decrease SAD symptoms.

Anyone can experience symptoms of SAD without having the full blown disorder. I just realized I have a bit of it this week. We’ve gone from summer-like weather to cold and yes, a bit cloudy in a matter of a few days. It’s like we didn’t have a chance to get used to a gradual decline in temperature or light. It seems to have gone from hot to cold and light to dark–all very suddenly. Instead of writing this blog I would prefer to be sitting on the couch, turning up the thermostat, putting on some cozy sweats, and reading a good novel.

Hmm, maybe I’ll do that. But I better follow some of my own advice and at least go for a short walk outside first. The sunshine will do me good for sure. And I know the dogs will express their undying gratitude as well. Here I go. Maybe you should do the same. Your dogs will thank you for it and so will your mood.

Image of New Mexico scene from Shutterstock.