Sometimes we get this idea that our bodies and minds are out to get us. That we are just screwed up people and that we have to fight all the negative impulses and instincts that we have in order to overcome them. In my experience however, I have found that it is generally more helpful to work with our drives, instincts, and emotions to channel them into positive directions. I genuinely believe that we, and our bodies and minds, are inherently good, and that the things that stem from them are functional at their core. We just tend to get in the way sometimes. For example, check out the symptoms of SAD: oversleeping, craving food, gaining weight. These are all perfectly functional drives and behaviors-If you are a caveman. If survival of the species (or your family) is important, then for our ancestors, the way to survive the scarcity of winter was to build up a fat reserve and sleep through the long, cold nights and hang out in your tiny hut during the short cold days. If you had tons of energy and excitement during those months of confinement you would drive yourself and others crazy, not to mention burning tons of calories that you didn’t have the food reserves to replace.
Spring SAD can also serve a function- that’s a time to have tons of energy (agitation), not sleep well (to get up early and get those seeds in the ground) and to lose appetite/weight (get rid of that hibernation store you were keeping in your midsection). All of these “symptoms” served an excellent survival function before the days of indoor heating, 9-5 work days year round, and indoor lighting.
Can’t afford a trip to the beach right now
Basically if we were allowed to hibernate during the winter and live outdoors and work and sleep following a more natural schedule then we may not have as big of a problem with seasonal mood disorders. But our modern society and work and school schedules don’t really allow for that, and since most of us either can’t afford a trip to the beach right now or we’re stuck home during a global pandemic, one of the ways we can treat SAD is through light therapy.