Archive for October, 2019

Finding Comfort in Consensus

10-12 blog

Spoiler Alert: This piece has nothing to do with politics and is rated I, as in Inoffensive for All Readers.

It happened again this morning. I awoke at 6:50 after seven-plus hours of sleep feeling not-so-rested and utterly lacking in ambition. Since this is a seasonal pattern for me, I took my concerns to that font of all wisdom, that oracle in the cloud, The Internet.

Type in Autumn Fatigue, and guess what? It’s a thing. Or at least it’s common enough to have a name. My search didn’t disappoint, and I’m hoping you’ll find the physiological explanations for this recurring complaint comforting.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one percent of Floridians and nine percent of Alaskans suffer from seasonal changes in mood and energy level. Clearly the Sunshine State has advantages over the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Well, duh, you say. But do you know why, smarty pants? With daylight hours shrinking as winter nears, receptors in the eye are the key. Exposure to natural light causes chemical changes that signal the brain to block the sleep hormone melatonin. Allowed to scurry around unfettered, melatonin convinces us that it’s nap time at 10:00 a.m. Not good.

So, if sunlight is such an important variable, we need to soak it up at every opportunity. And when those nimbusy snow clouds make this impossible, I guess fake it with ion therapy lamp exposure.

Advice to rehydrate seems less obvious, even though reliable sources have long advised that insufficient fluid intake slows the metabolism. In the summer heat, thirst nags at me. But as a chill creeps into the air, I’m more likely to sip hot tea than chug cold water. May have to set up some daily reminders for this one.

Some tidbits were more intuitive: listen to serotonin-boosting music; find a way to get those seven-to-nine recommended hours of sleep; make time for stress-clearing exercise, since it boosts endorphin production and helps immensely with that sleep thing; pay extra attention to your diet.

The food aspect grabbed my attention. After all, we have more control over our diets than over gray skies and the earth’s rotation patterns. Thinking of it that way makes it easier to give up the Cheetos in favor of some of Autumn’s colorful, vitamin-rich offerings. (There are multiple lists of “good mood foods” available online.)

On Wednesday, as I started this, I opted for canned pumpkin stirred into my morning oatmeal, poached a salmon filet to add to my spinach and fresh mushroom salad lunch, then enjoyed a slab of roasted pork loin and a huge pile of roasted root vegetables for dinner. Dessert was apple slices poached in cider and topped with vitamin-D enriched vanilla Greek yogurt and toasted pine nuts. No sacrifices there.

Also on Wednesday, I ditched my treadmill workout for a fifty-minute power walk under sunny skies. Alas, the photos above document the radical detour today’s weather took.

Having done battle with fall fatigue, I’ll be rephrasing my next search. Meanwhile, let’s pray that today’s white stuff was a fluke and we won’t have to deal with winter weariness any time soon.

 

 

October 12, 2019 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment


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