Environmental factors impact emotions | Columns

The Taos News is committed to putting together a weekly column to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People can write questions to Golden Willow Retreat, and they will be answered privately and possibly in a future article for others. Please enter a first name that allows printing.

For the past month or so, I have experienced this feeling of being emotionally depressed with a melancholy vibe that just seems to weigh on me. This feeling has resulted in present and past losses in my life, but I am not sure what is going on. I wonder if this has something to do with the time of year or the weather?

Great question, and at this time of year it’s very possible that you have Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that correlates with the change of seasons. For most people, this happens during the transition from fall to winter. A smaller percentage can suffer from spring to summer. SAD seems to take your energy away and make you cranky, lethargic, and emotionally depressed.

Autumn in winter has a drastic change with the lack of light, the change of time, cold weather and more alone time with the decrease in light and temperature. For many, there is a period of adaptation to acclimatize to these changes. For others, this is a very serious matter and modalities such as light therapy, medication, psychotherapy, and many holistic treatments may be needed to improve your quality of life. In addition to seasonal changes, environmental stimuli have major impacts on your emotional world.

Our senses, our sense of smell, our sight, our sensations, our hearing, our taste and our proprioception (sense of movement and position of limbs and muscles) constantly capture and process information. There are even more subtle sensors that monitor your balance, movement, hunger, thirst, blood flow needs, and more. Your body is constantly trying to keep you in balance, and it does so through the four quadrants of being emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy. This means that any stimuli that come to you are processed and can impact any of these quadrants, including your emotional state.

Changes in your routines can upset this balance, which means that even happy changes like vacations, time off, trips, gatherings, and other routines can overload your system as it tries to keep you in a state of homeostasis, as the outside world throws balls of normality curve at your system.

There are actions you can take to help build supports during environmental changes, such as being more aware of nutrition, hydration, exercise, avoiding unhealthy isolation, avoiding excessive addictive behaviors. such as alcohol and drugs and making sure you get plenty of quality sleep.

Finding healthy routines in times of change is difficult, and where you can take care of yourself with certain levels of routine, you can weather the storm of change with a better quality of life. Remember, if you find the emotional storm overwhelming and you need more help, please contact the professional supports who work for you in your community. I wish you good luck and please stay safe. See you next week, take care of yourself.

Golden Willow Retreat is a non-profit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from all types of loss. Direct questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat GWR@newmex.com or call 575-776-2024. Free weekly virtual bereavement groups are offered to help support emotional well-being. Information is accessible via goldenwillowretreat.org.