Thursday, November 29, 2007

Getting Enough Light: The perils of SAD

As we head further into the "dark" part of the year, some people discover that their moods also get darker. As HSPs, I believe we are particularly susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) because we are so tuned in to our environments.

I used to live in the south (Texas), but now I live in northwestern Washington where the days are short in winter, and the sky is often cloudy. Although I much prefer the climate here, I am also very aware that it is darker than I was previously accustomed to.

If SAD affects you in an extreme way, light therapy might be the only way you can get relief. However, there are many HSPs who are just "mild sufferers."

I have found it very helpful to make a point of getting outside during daylight hours, even if the weather is yucky. I don't necessarily need direct sun (although that's a nice benefit), as long as I get some direct daylight. You may think you get "daylight" from sitting in your house, but it's not quite the same thing. If you work during all daylight hours, consider taking your lunch outside to eat... even if it's a bit chilly and nasty. If you have time (or get breaks) even a 15-minute brisk walk can be a great help.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

HSPs and Holiday Stress

As the holiday season approaches, I am seldom with a group of HSPs, or part of an HSP web group for that matter-- without a few moans and groans coming up. "HSPs and Holiday Stress" seems to just be "one of those topics" that comes up and gets rehashed this time of the year.

I find myself having some minor "guilt" over the fact that I basically live at the end of the world and will
NOT be dealing with "family situations" for the holidays. Actually, I feel somewhat grateful that I have so little family, and they live so far away, and I won't have to "deal with" a whole situation of getting together with a bunch of people who sit around and pretend to "like" each other and that they are "enjoying" themselves, even while making snide comments about everyone present.

Maybe my attitude towards the holidays reflects that they were never really very positive times for me. Some of my attitude is a certain "bah-humbug-ishness," left over from the 12-odd years I managed an upscale gift store. Dealing with the "general public" around the holidays really brings a person in touch with the less attractive aspects of the human condition.

I also know that some of my reluctance has to do with being an HSP, and easily getting overstimulated by social situations, and what I think of as "psychic loudness."

I was thinking about the above statement, earlier... and realize that I do
not have anxiety around social situations, and I am actually quite good at dealing with them. Even though I am an introvert.

What I am NOT good at is dealing with "forced" social situations... and so many family holidays seem very "forced" to me. And few things throw me over into overwhelm than needing to "pretend" I feel a certain way about a situation... when those feelings are actually not
AT ALL how I am feeling.

The holidays are a time of the year when it becomes especially important for the highly sensitive person to be aware of-- and honor-- their sensitivity. Now, when I say "honor," I don't mean we have to become "spoiled prima donnas" who have to have everyone accommodate us. What I mean is that we need to "ration" our available energy and good cheer more carefully, because there are more demands made on us, and the environment around us-- from family plans to the eternal commercial messages on television-- seems far more "invasive" than during the rest of the year.

Many HSPs want to be "up" for the holidays and for family and friends. So pause for a moment, and find ways to create more peaceful moments "in between," and take a little time to figure out what other actvities you can cut out of your schedule, to give yourselves more energy for holiday events.

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