Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dealing With the Blahs

by Julia Buckley
Have you noticed a bit less pep in your prose lately? Less vinegar in your verbs? Even writers can fall victim to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

•Afternoon slumps with decreased energy and concentration
•Carbohydrate cravings
•Decreased interest in work or other activities
•Depression that starts in fall or winter
•Increased appetite with weight gain
•Increased sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness
•Lack of energy
•Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
•Social withdrawal

Gee, now that I look at it, I have these during EVERY season. :)

Seriously, though. I recently found myself looking at the fourth day of gray and gloomy and snow-threatening skies. It made me feel rather sad and helpless, and I'm a person who has never minded snow overly much. Still, after a time, this season can affect my productivity.

SAD is actually a form of depression, and so most Internet sites about it will tell you that if your symptoms are severe, you should speak to a mental health professional. However, there are certain common sense things you can do that might perk up your personality and your prose.

Here are some tips from E-how:

1. Exercise three times a week. This will build your immunity and help you sleep better.

2. Eat well, but not heavily. Think nutrition.

3. Laugh, even if you're faking it. Studies show that even fake laughing boosts one's mood. (What a great pre-writing activity! As if writers weren't eccentric enough).

4. Wear bright colors and things that make you feel good.

Perhaps this last one can extend to your writing area. Over Christmas break I cleaned my desk and the surrounding shelves, as well as a few drawers, and it REALLY made me feel better.

So, do you think SAD is affecting your writing? If so, what solutions work for you?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

The exercise is a big thing for me. When I exercise regularly, my attitude and mental capacity definitely turns to the positive. When I'm logy, I'm cranky, high strung, and don't want to do anything, especially write.

G.M. Malliet said...

I'm with Sue Ann - I have to exercise, overcoming my ingrained sloth to do so. I'm trying to extend the warranty.

Cricket McRae said...

Ditto on the exercise, outside if possible, around 2:00 p.m. when I slump. Like you, Julia, I've been trying to simplify my work environment (read: clean up my office more). And I still have one of those bright, anti-SAD lights from when I lived in Seattle. It's been so cloudy here lately that I'm considering using it.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm working on the exercise, although sometimes it falls through the cracks. I'm doing it on the Wii now...no more exercise classes for me!

Mystery Writing is Murder
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Julia Buckley said...

I've been terrible about exercise all my life. When I was young and svelte it didn't seem that important. Then I was older and less svelte, but often "too busy" to fit it in. Now I'm even older, svelte is in another county, and I need to do it for my general health. That doesn't mean I have to like it, but it does help with my general attitude. :)