Top ten ways to beat the seasonal mood swings

Sun plays a very, very important role in our overall wellbeing. I am not saying anything new, am I? Everyone knows this.

But this taken-for-granted-sun has really made its point. And how well! Till very recently, I did not really understand how sun influences our personal and mental well-being and how much can it really affect our mood.

The full force of its power has recently dawned upon me. NZ is in midst of a full blown winter.  This means we have very short days here and very long nights right now. For the past couple of weeks, sun has been rising at 7.45am (OMG, can you believe that?) and sets at 4.57pm. On most days, its gloomy, rainy and windy. Sun just gives us a formal guest appearnace once in a while and behaves like a celebrity who walks into a party late, knows his worth, charms everyone and leaves just as quickly.

I am observing how depressing this can get. Not getting enough day light can seriously affect moods. When I wake up at 7, it is so dark, that I have to summon every little speck of power within me to leave the warm comfort of bed, and step into yet another cold, gloomy day. When I leave office at 5.15pm, it is so dark that it seems like 8pm. Ya. So basically, my exposure to sun is now limited to the weekends only, provided that sun decides to come out on a weekend. If it also decides to take a weekend off, it gets extremely dull and can also get quite depressing.

With this, comes a crushing realization of just how powerful nature is. And how paradoxical life is! And how it makes you want things you do not have! When I was in India, I used to rant about how hot summers got. And now when I am in NZ,  how much I crave for some sun and light. I really need a Vitamin D fix. Urgently.

There have been studies on this unique condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. People with SAD, seem to have depressive mood spells in autum and winter. I am not getting into the whole scientific part of SAD. Am just saying that what so many people are experiencing is not baseless.

But lets take charge of this and do small things to keep black mood at bay. Let us not let it affect us so much. It’s all in our mind, and we can control this.

Top ten ways to beat the seasonal mood swings:

  1. Try to be upbeat, and not have lingering, depressing thoughts. Stay happy. Train your mind to think happy thoughts.
  2. Surround yourself with postive people and people who love to laugh. You definitely do not need negative, overly critical, unreasonably judgemental, and people who constantly find reasons to complain. You need more positive aura around you.
  3. Listen to your favourite fast music. Your favourite peppy number. Have a go-to playlist for such days or listen to your favourite song in loop. Whichever way you like really.
  4. Steer clear of sad, depressing songs.
  5. Call, talk, meet, skype with your family and excahnge good conversations. It really lighthens the mood.
  7. Ease up on coffee and eat your favourite food.
  8. Watch classics and funny movies.
  9. Develop a hobby. If you already have one, lose yourself in it.
  10. And you may want to use more white lights at home as opposed to dim, yellow lights.





Those two pieces of my chocolate

I don’t think I am someone who has a big sweet tooth. Yes, I do crave my occasional spoon or two of dessert, but nothing like borderline madness for sweet things that I know some people have. I sure crave for one hot piping gulab jamun, or one big spoon of quintessential ‘gajar ka halwa’ or a bowl of fruit custard once in a while. But that’s about how mad it can get for me.

For a weight watcher like me whose constant buddy is ‘guilt’, doing something ‘wild’ or ‘totally crazy’ would probably mean eating 5-6 gulab jamuns in a row. And I must confess that I haven’t been ‘that crazy or wild’ yet.  Reading what my idea of ‘wild’ is, you’d probably be smirking at me. Huh, like I care! But this point had to be made to prove that I really am not someone who can boast of big sweet tooth. Like the times when I am very hungry, and haven’t had much to eat throughout the day, I wouln’t crave for sugar. I would crave for salt. Chatpatta (tangy) is more my style.

But, there is one exception to this pattern. It’s the chocolate. And off late, it’s trying to make its voice very clear. It’s like it is seeking its revenge for all my I-am-not-a-sweet-tooth-person boastings and trying to tell me, “I have you baby, I have you firmly held, I have my claws all around you. Let’s see how you can free yourself from me now. And let’s see how you dismiss your sweet cravings now. Some fun this will be. Some fun!” And having captured me and threatened me with its powerful determination to possess me, it goes on to give out a big mirth; like a devil telling me, “hehahaha….I have you”.

Yes. I need my two pieces of chocolate. I need my chocolate fix. Daily. I can’t seem to resist that. I am fighting a losing battle here. And the problem is it doesn’t stop at two. I start out telling myself, only one piece. Okay, just one more. And two becomes three, three becomes four, and four threatens to become five on so many days. After fourth, I summon all my will and resist with vehemence and refuse to fall prey to the chocolate’s malicious mind numbing ways.

I like my chocolate at room temperature. I like its melting texture on the tongue. I plop it into my mouth and let it melt away into nothingness slowly. I savour it. I swirl it and twirl it in my mouth, remembering not to do it too much, lest it can get over quickly. I scheme of ways to make it live a little longer in my mouth before withering away. Would you call any of this a normal behaviour? For a 26 year old?

As a child, I used to often fantasize about how it will feel to enter a chocolate factory, see the molten chocolate falling from big apparatus and filling the moulds. I used to wonder how great it would be if I could fill a cup with that molten chocolate, escape to an anonymous corner and enjoy the molten chocolate…one spoon at a time. Back then, when my mind had conceived this idea, the concept of molten chocolate was still widely unheard of; at least in India. My fantasy was ahead of its time, I would say.

Heck, I still want to do this. I have dreamed of this so many times.

As I am writing this, all I can think of is how Lindor chocolate balls feel on my tongue. Crusty on the outside and gooey inside. Sinful. One of my favourites. Smoothest chocolate ever by Lindt.

And how the silky texture of Cadbury Dairy Milk silk feels. Dairy Milk Silk Roast almond. Also a favourite.

Dairy Milk Crackle – crackling away on my tongue. Childhood favourite.

Whittaker’s Hazel Nut with its one too many hazelnuts. You ‘can’t’ eat just one piece, I bet.

I have reached a point where I no longer try fooling my mind with valid reasons for digging into some chocolate. Before this phase, my valid reasons included: PMS, dark and gloomy day, stress, boredom, being a woman and having all those hormones making life difficult for me, very strong random cravings, having eaten something too salty or spicy and wanting to balance it with something sweet. Something chocolate.

Now, I don’t need any reasons, and that alarms me. How did I reach to this point?

And on days when we are running out of chocolate, I go on and sneakily help myself with a finger full of Nutella.

Oh my God!

Do you think I am becoming a chocolate addict?