Monday, December 17, 2007

Even If We're Just Dancing In The Dark

From Wiki on the Winter Solstice:

Even in modern cultures these gatherings are still valued for emotional comfort, having something to look forward to at the darkest time of the year. This is especially the case for populations in the near polar regions of the hemisphere. The depressive psychological effects of winter on individuals and societies for that matter, are for the most part tied to coldness, tiredness, malaise, and inactivity. Winter weather, plus being indoors causes negative ion deficiency which decreases serotonin levels resulting in depression and tiredness. Also, getting insufficient light in the short winter days increases the secretion of melatonin in the body, off balancing the circadian rhythm with longer sleep. Studies have proven that exercise, light therapy, increased negative ion exposure (which can be attained from plants and well ventilated flames burning wood or beeswax) can reinvigorate the body from its seasonal lull and relieve winter blues by shortening the melatonin secretions, increasing serotonin and temporarily creating a more even sleeping pattern. Midwinter festivals and celebrations occurring on the longest night of the year, often calling for evergreens, bright illumination, large ongoing fires, feasting, communion with close ones, and evening physical exertion by dancing and singing are examples of cultural winter therapies that have evolved as traditions since the beginnings of civilization. Such traditions can stir the wit, stave off malaise, reset the internal clock and rekindle the human spirit.

And, it's fun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I caught this post as I am a SAD person and this topic interests me. I don't desperately research it for some feel good remedy, but I am accutely aware of the condition. Regular outdoor activity in the winter time when the sun is shining, such as hiking or snow shoeing, is very helpful. When it's drismaly dark and cloudy, I'll try viewing or listening to recordings from spring or summer, things you can find on the internet, recordings of wood or chorus frogs, spring peepers, American toad, or migratory birds. I could go on and on about surviving the 'dark' time of year but not here; I read a post here about a month ago where you indicated you actually like the long nights - yech.