Empath Blues: Turning the Clocks Back
In the wee hours tonight, November 2, Daylight Savings Time officially ends. We set our clocks back one hour before we go to bed. "Fall back, Spring ahead."I don't know about you, but I dread the first Sunday of November, when the DARK DAYS BEGIN. I desperately miss our one, precious, extra hour of light. I long for the strong rays of summer sunshine. Sunset at 4:45pm? Depressing.
I am an empath. Empaths are more sensitive to our environment, and are driven to spend time in nature. It refreshes us. It grounds us. Sunlight restores and energizes us. I am not a skier, ice skater, or one who enjoys any outdoor activity when the thermometer drops below 45°. Thus, in the long, dark days of late fall/winter, I am definitely not meeting my sunshine/outdoor 'quotient.'
Unbeknownst to most, there are six major types of empaths. These include emotional, medical (those who intuitively know what ails another person) intuitive, animal (has an extraordinary ability to recognize and understand the emotions/emotional states of an animal), plant (plant empaths have "green-thumbs", a strong connection to nature, plants, and trees), and earth empaths. Most of us are not one 'type,' but a combination of several types. For example, I am an emotional, intuitive, and earth empath.
Earth empaths are highly sensitive to mother nature, barometric pressure, and seasonal changes. We may feel sad, down, irritable, or more anxious on cloudy and/or rainy days (remember-we are physically and emotionally energized by the sun). We NEED sun. And lots of it.
Some Earth empaths may experience mild to clinical Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)- becoming depressed in the fall and winter, when the days are shorter. Initial research suggests that empaths may have atypical dopamine levels. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter ( neurotransmitters send messages between nerve cells in the brain). Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. Contentment. Feeling upbeat. In other words, it's a mood booster.
A decrease in exposure to sunlight often leads to decreased levels of dopamine, which in turn, often leads to depression, or just feeling 'down.'
Do I suffer from clinical SAD? No. I suffer from what I call the "Empath Blues." Tonight I'll grit my teeth as I turn my clock back an hour. I'll steel myself for one less hour of daily sunshine. I will also focus on the positive. On Sunday, March 8th, 2020, we move our clocks forward one hour. Then, I will be in my happy place. Until then, I'll grin and bear it.