There is something special about the changing of seasons. One of the main reasons I prefer the East Coast to the West Coast is largely because of my need for four seasons. The cycle of nature reminds me to reset, recharge and refocus. There is so much ahead of us as a nation in these upcoming months. It is imperative we stop for just a moment to embrace the passage of time and to see how we, too, are interconnected with nature and all that surrounds us.
Not everyone gets excited about the leaves changing colors and ultimately falling gracefully from the trees. Nor do they love bundling up in wool sweaters, feeling the crisp air on their noses. Several friends of mine struggle with seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. The Mayo Clinic defines SAD as “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons” that begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Therefore, some readers may be feeling “less than” and are not sure why exactly.
It is difficult to maintain high energy when the sun doesn’t seem to rise until around 8 a.m. and begins to set around 4 p.m. I have found ways to combat the fall and winter blues by doing some minor activities. I try to schedule activities with friends and family to get me out of the bed and out of the house. This colder season is also a great opportunity to try museums that have been on your “to-do” list for years.
For years, people joked that SAD was a fiction. However, we now know that Black men and women suffer from depression, seasonal disorders and feelings of being overwhelmed and/or underwhelmed by life. Chirlane McCray, the first lady of New York, has made it her mission to bring awareness to issues pertaining to depression and overall mental health. Her focus has been to bring awareness to individuals, families and communities to spawn more productive and substantive conversations pertaining to how we take care of ourselves in a holistic way.
By engaging in conversations about depression and mental health, we can remove the stigma surrounding it. So many individuals and families are affected by these issues and often suffer in silence. For some, going to a museum or spending time with friends is the cure. For others, a more comprehensive plan must be put into action. It is my hope that we will continue to check in with ourselves and our loved ones to make sure we all enter fall with a clear mind and support systems when needed. Happy fall and wishes for good health.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University and the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.” You can find her on Twitter @Dr_CMGreer.