Autumn: the beauty and the darkness
Autumn is a dramatic and breathtaking season. The palate of the landscape transforms into a bursting exhibition of golden, warm hues. The flavors of local crops are rich and sweet and filling. It’s a time to begin preparing for winter. Plants and animals focus their energies on building up their resilience for winter, and we can do the same. The dark of winter brings unique challenges to all creatures of the natural world. One challenge that many face is depression.
About 10% of people in the U.S. suffer from depression at any given time and the seasons of autumn and winter trigger the onset of depression for many more, so it’s no surprise that October was chosen to be National Depression Awareness Month. Chances are, you or someone you know has suffered with depression. Depression is characterized by low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness, disturbed sleeping and eating patterns, and loss of energy. It is a very serious condition that should not be taken lightly nor should those suffering be blamed for the onset of their condition. We can, however, do our best to support one another in coping and building resiliency through healthy habits and routines. Make no mistake, it is difficult to make lifestyle changes while one is in the grip of depression, but even modest changes can lead to marked improvements for those suffering from depression and, for many, helps prevent the onset of depression.
Exercise, yoga, and meditation have all shown to be highly effective in improving mood and stress-coping abilities. Time spent outdoors is especially helpful in the winter months when our exposure to sunlight has decreased. And of course: rest and relaxation. Scheduled downtime and relaxation practices help the mind and body maintain balance and also play a major role in managing stress which is often tied to depression.
So as we move into this new season, let us stay mindful of both the beauty and the suffering that the darker months bring. Let us support one another in preparing for winter, collectively, compassionately.