a peek inside the fishbowl

26 Oct, 2011

A S.A.D. time of year

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I often joke that my body is solar-powered, but it’s not really a joke anymore. It’s pretty much the truth. My body can tell when the sun hides behind clouds for extended periods of time and it’s getting worse as I get older. I know what things to look for, and how to prevent the worst of it, but I still have to drag my butt out of bed every morning.

A lack of light means that I’m run down and tired, unmotivated, and easily stressed and snappish. And I don’t like that about myself.

Do you do anything different to cope with the darker months? More coffee? A gym membership? What? I need to do something more than mope around the kitchen and make tea and toast.

The big thing that’s missing from my life right now is exercise. (I’ll be writing more about that tomorrow. I have a plan!) I am taking my Vitamin D again and I will be starting up with my Litebook too. (I wrote about it previously here. I love that thing. It really works!)

While I was at Blissdom Canada there was a special room sponsored by Philips that become a cool place for conference goers to sit and chill. There were manicures going on, and electric toothbrushes being given out (I think) but I was mostly there for the company and the fantastic espresso. :) Anyway, it was there that I noticed a really interesting version of my Litebook. It’s called a Wake-Up Light, and it’s basically a dawn simulator… an alarm clock that wakes you up with incremental bits of light. Have you seen this before? I think it’s such a neat idea.

It reminded me of a video I saw awhile back. I’m reposting it here because it’s hilarious, and so well done. You have to watch it all the way through. Makes me smile every time.

Anyway, yes, excercise. I’m not doing much outside of walking the dog anymore, and I know it’s affecting me on many levels; physically and mentally. That’s why in tomorrow’s post i’m going to lay out a new plan of action. Come back and see. Maybe it’ll move you to join me? :)

12 Responses to "A S.A.D. time of year"

1 | Maranda

October 26th, 2011 at 1:23 pm


Philips had something like the your Litebook in their room at Blissdom too. It had blue LEDs, no heat just blue light. Very cool.

I’m finding the change of season very hard (as usual). This time of year seems SO cold, even though I know in 6 or 8 weeks this would seem glorious. I try to talk myself into going outside to enjoy it while I can. When you don’t “have” to go outside, it’s easy to just stay in day after day.

I’m starting a little social club to help get me through the winter, and I hope that will help with my moods. It’s going to be a group video chat, which means no bundling up and brushing off the car, just the fun part of getting together. Although that doesn’t help with the physical aspect of SAD (and whatever) that bit of socialization should be good for my mood.

And yes to vitamin D! I’m taking 3000. And magnesium is good for moods, I take that every day too.

2 | Misty

October 26th, 2011 at 1:44 pm


ooo, can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post. I am also doing nothing in the exercise department. Maybe you will motivate me. I am OK with light during this time of the year, but I struggle a lot in Jan and Feb after the holidays are over and we have to slog through slush and ice. The last couple of years we have headed down to Florida to help relieve the ennui, but it seems to make things more stressful, as both times my daughter got sick. So this year we are sticking around, and my goal is to enjoy winter to its fullest – night walks with the bright stars, tobogganing, skating, skiing, and maybe a romantic cabin getaway over Valentine’s Day. I hope you find somethings that help you through this tough part!

3 | Valerie

October 26th, 2011 at 2:27 pm


LOL at how extensive the experiment got and how excited the people were! I’ve read about those alarm lights, though and wondered if I’d feel better using one (although, it wouldn’t really be fair to hubby who gets up an hour later than I do).

I’m needing some inspiration for exercise and maybe a Litebook of my own – will be back tomorrow.

4 | MaryP

October 26th, 2011 at 2:47 pm


I have a light, forget what it’s called, that I got from a place in Montreal, with the requisite 10,000 lux. Looooove that thing.

Do you find using the light affects your wake time? After using it for a couple of weeks, 30 minutes first thing in the morning, I am waking up a full hour earlier than I do in the summer. No alarm, no groggy hauling myself out of bed. I just… wake up! In the dark! (Seriously weird, but I’m not complaining. I like that hour or two of quiet solitude.)

My husband has one of those alarm-clock lights. No idea how well it works on mood, though, since I get up at least an hour before him. (cf ‘early rising’, above)

The thing that I do for my mood (beside the light) in the winter: while sitting in front of my light, I read self-help books. I’m not seeking to make dramatic changes; I like myself, mostly, and really? I think if I need to make changes, I can figure that out myself. But I read these things, and genuinely like them, because they are such OPTIMISTIC, HOPEFUL books. You can do this! And be happier! And fulfilled! And stronger! And have a better memory! And a terrific sex life! And a tighter ass!!!

Just the injection of positives vibes I need at 5 of a bleak, black, February morning… :-)

5 | BeachMama

October 26th, 2011 at 7:15 pm


I loved that Wake-up Light!! I think waking up is the hardest part of the darkness this time of year. We keep our windows lightly dressed to allow sunlight to filter in, it allows us to wake up naturally when the sun comes up. at this time when it is dark when we need to get up it would be nice to have something to simulate the dawn. Perhaps I will look into it because I was thinking of starting up some tanning again, which is what I used to do pre-kids to battle the winter blues.

6 | Capital Mom

October 26th, 2011 at 8:55 pm


I don’t find the light that hard in the winter but oh the cold. I hate it and it makes me not want to go outside.

7 | Jennerknit

October 26th, 2011 at 9:18 pm


I’m with you on the light, though I start end of August and ramp it up. I’m also at the required 10, 000 lux, and omega 3 -6-9 @ d/day is suggested by my dr. Still, I’m having a hard time ‘fitting in’ the light therapy… something about a little person climbing all over me that makes it difficult. Yes, I should make it a priority, it does really help, and I’m with you, getting your heart pumping helps too. Oh good’ ole northern climate… sigh. Oh, finally, something to look forward to, besides spring, like a trip south!! ;) Take care.

8 | The 100 club (a.k.a. my S.A.D plan) >> a peek inside the fishbowl

October 27th, 2011 at 9:31 am


[…] is a continuation of yesterday’s post, written as I bask in the glow of my Litebook. […]

9 | Giulia

October 27th, 2011 at 9:57 am


My mom and grandmother use the wake up light and have for years. They swear by it. I totally agree on the dark and lack of sun – I have so much trouble getting up even if I get a good night of sleep.
Have you thought of snow birding once your kids are out of school? A little southern sun could help you out?

10 | Ingredients for Life

October 27th, 2011 at 10:16 am


I have something similar. I use it to wake-up to and I use it at night as a reading lamp (I have no problems falling asleep.) It’s great!

11 | Katie

October 27th, 2011 at 11:26 am


Hi Andrea,
I am exploring my diet to eliminate aches and grumpiness and going wheat free is making a positive impact. It is a big diet shift for me, it makes a difference.

12 | Sasha

October 30th, 2011 at 2:47 pm


*LOVE* the video, that’s hilarious. I’ve heard of alarm clocks like that, sounds like a wonderfully civilized way to wake up.

I, too, have been less active lately. I find it tends to be a negative feedback loop – don’t move – feel lousy – feel lousier – move less. This time around it’s taking more than getting active to break the cycle, I started on anti-depressants about a month ago (and had a someone entertaining – in hindsight – run-in with a therapist).

And so on to your next post! Looking forward to it!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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