January is not the most welcome month to many people in my area due to the cold weather, inclement conditions, and messy roads that come with the month. Though these facts don’t paint the best picture for January, there is one aspect that I have found most positive about January—the fact it also brings with it noticeably longer days and more daylight. This is a huge deal to me because I tend to function much better in the light than the dark.
Daylight and Dysfunction
While noticing the earlier sunrises and later sunsets this past week, my mind wandered a bit to consider others who are seriously affected by the shorter days winter offers. The condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very common according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms include:
- Severe depression
- Feeling tired
- Craving carbohydrates
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleep issues
Theories suggest lack of light as a major cause for SAD. Though I have never been diagnosed with SAD, I do know changes in the amount of daylight affect my mood and can make me feel depressed for days on end. My way of combating this feeling is to stay active and spend as much time as possible outside.
White as Snow
One aspect of January I observed many years ago was the snow that came with the month also brightened the landscape. Even in the dark, the snow makes things more visible. If the moon is out, it casts shadows across the white blanket on the ground, creating a mosaic of nature’s offerings. While the sight may connote a sense of feeling cold, it can also allow one to reflect on the beauty in the scenery.
The snow on the ground in my area this week made the mornings and evenings appear brighter for longer periods of time. On clear nights when the moon and stars were visible, the landscape sparkled as the snow flakes’ structures caught and reflected the light. To me, the sight was peaceful and offered time to reflect upon the days’ events and be thankful for nature’s blessings.
Red Sunsets of Content
This week also brought many red sunsets to my area. Though Valentine’s Day isn’t for a few weeks, I think God was sending us early Valentine wishes with all the red, pink, and crimson in the skylines. On several of my runs, I watched the sun go down and though the air was cold, I felt warmed by the sight. This made me wonder a bit about colors and how they affect our thoughts.
From my days as a landscaper, I know there warm and cool colors. Red, orange, and yellow are considered warm. They connote energy, life, and stimulation. Blue, green, and violet are considered cool colors. They tend to connote calmness and relaxation in the mind.
The designation of warm or cool is related to the color temperature in Kelvin corresponding to any given light’s color. Warm colors actually have a lower temperature on the Kelvin scale than cool colors.
Hope for Brighter Days
All this thinking about light and colors while going through my daily activities gave me hope for brighter days to come. Add to this the prospect of moving one step closer to spring with the arrival of February, and I found the last week of January to be downright invigorating despite the month’s cold and historically bad reputation.
Life is a journey full of perspectives to contemplate and reflect upon. As we travel the miles along the way, we gain understanding and wisdom, which allow us to appreciate more of nature’s changes and the opportunities these changes offer us. While some legs of the journey may not be comfortable or pleasant, they do offer opportunity to build character and be thankful for one’s blessings.
Resources and Related Links
Colors and Thoughts – http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/colorpsych.htm
Color Temperature – http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/40005/color-temperature
Seasonal Affective Disorder WebMD– http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-topic-overview
Seasonal Affective Disorder Mayo Clinic- http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047
Warm and Cool Colors – http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/homegardening/scenea150.html