The probability of mood disorders (affective disorders) increases in the dark and cold season. With power outages again possible this winter, the mental health situation can only get worse.
The Ministry of Health says that people who have previously had seasonal affective disorders or are currently experiencing a depressive episode are at special risk.
“If after switching to “winter time“you are almost constantly in a state of apathy, sadness or indifference, confusion, you crave something sweet or fatty, you want to sleep all the time, but you can’t get enough to eat and sleep, then it is better to consult a family doctor or a psychiatrist than to try to save yourself with coffee and sweets”the publication says.
The Ministry of Health has given advice on how to stay more resilient during power outages and to stay calm in the event of panic or despair due to the darkness.
Tip #1: Put away gadgets during blackouts
“Dark evenings without gadgets, lights, screens, with warm and not very bright light harmonize with our physiology. Especially if we see sunlight in the morning, and a lot of sunlight and artificial neutral light in the afternoon.
Therefore, evening blackouts can be perceived as a beneficial phenomenon for the brain and mental state – provided that at this time you listen to music or an audio book, play board games, do household chores, go for a walk or sleep.”– recommended by the Ministry of Health.
During a power outage, the warm light of garlands and battery lights will be much more comfortable than the cold blue. Therefore, the ministry advises to take care of home lighting with yellow LED lamps. And in order to “get enough” of natural light, people are encouraged to start their day with sunrise and spend as much time outside as possible during daylight hours.
“You should also make the natural light in the room as large as possible: no curtains or blinds on the windows during the day. If possible, avoid rooms with windows to the north in winter and follow the sun like cats. The brain accumulates the light seen during the day, so accumulate lux of light for each occasions”the publication says.
Tip #2: Stimulate other sensors in the dark
Stimulating the brain with pleasant smells, sounds and textures under the light of a garland or in the dark can reduce the anxiety of the brain due to a lack of input information, say experts of the Ministry of Health. That is why they urge you to focus in the dark on your sensations: what you hear, feel by touch or smell, whether you feel warm, how your own voice sounds and vibrates in your chest.
“Darkness is neither good nor bad. We are only in the dark or looking at a candle and listening to the crackling of its wick. It causes certain sensations, they are just there, we focus on them, but we do not give evaluative judgments to what is happening. Such staying in the “here and now” without any thoughts about the past or the future can calm our anxiety and discomfort”– stated in the publication.
Tip #3: “stock up” on smells
According to doctors, information about smells goes immediately to the areas of the brain that are involved in creating emotions and awakening memories. That is why some smells throw us into a vortex of sudden emotions or detailed memories. Each of us has such trigger aromas.
“If the prospect of sitting in the dark looms ahead, attract pleasant emotions or memories with the help of smells. It can be not only perfumes, candles or diffusers – for someone, the trigger for feelings of coziness and security can be the smell of cornbread or pancakes.” – say the Ministry of Health.
Tip #4: a heavy blanket will overcome anxiety
It is believed that a blanket weighing 10-20% of your own weight can be a good way to reduce anxiety. The Ministry of Health says: to confirm this opinion, there is still a lack of research on large volumes of volunteers, but they recommend not to neglect this method:
“If you have the opportunity to buy a bedstead or a special heavy blanket, or make something like that from several cotton bedspreads and a blanket, you can try.”
Tip #5: Listen to ASMR audio
ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is a perception phenomenon characterized by a distinct pleasant tingling sensation on the scalp or other parts of the body in response to certain visual, auditory and (or) cognitive stimuli.
Such sensations can be stimulated not only by music, but also by whispers, the rustling of book pages, the crackling of a fire, the ticking of knitting needles, etc.
“This involuntary reaction of the body to certain sensory stimuli does not happen to everyone and not always, and those who do know that it is pleasant. If you are one of those who react positively to certain sounds – try using it in the dark, when you want to bring back pleasant feelings and peace. Listen to ASMR audio from the Internet or create sounds yourself that cause pleasant sensations on the skin.” – the Ministry of Health advises.
It will be recalled that earlier the Ministry of Health gave advice on how to save expressed breast milk during a power outage.
Read also: How to safely use candles, burners and generators when there is no light?
Iryna Batiuk, “UP. Life”