Rick’s Garden

Rick’s Garden

This blog post is written by our therapist, Richard Miller.

It’s the time of year when summer blooms are memories and as Pittsburghers say, we “red-up” the gardens, whether it’s to get ready for winter yard decorations or to make our lives easier in spring when we hope for the return of blooms.

As our bulbs and perennials rest beneath the earth, what we do above the ground still matters. Just as we add nutrients to our garden as it is about to go into dormancy, it is the same for us. As we head into the winter and holiday seasons, a historically stressful time when our needs to make helpful decisions for friends and family increases, we need to increase the practice of basic health needs for ourselves. This is a reminder to drink plenty of water, follow a good diet, exercise and get restful sleep. Oh yes, and remember the importance of light, even in the darkness.

Around this time of year, I increase my intake of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. On occasion, a client presents with what appears to be depression, but upon further evaluation, there is evidence of seasonal affective disorder. Sometimes clients are prescribed massive amounts of Vitamin D3 by their medical doctor. Consult with your primary physician to see what appropriate levels would be for you.

Something simple we can do every day is to turn on a bright light in the morning. Although house lights are not a substitute for sunlight, I find it helps my brain to maintain a healthier sleep-awake cycle. Our circadian rhythms are regulated by the amount of light that is available. As the weather becomes colder and we tend to spend more time inside, our general level of physical activity diminishes. This can affect our sleep-awake cycles, too. Some people take a melatonin supplement to aid in restful sleep. Melatonin production is also light sensitive, particularly to blue light. This is the type of light we get from our computers and cell phone screens. Blue light tends to reduce the production of melatonin. It’s a good idea to turn off electronics an hour before bed and reduce the brightness of lights in the house.

The little things we do outside in the fall will lighten our spring tasks, and the same is generally true for the little things we do for ourselves on the inside, so we’re hopefully ready to enjoy, again, the blooms of spring and the work of our gardens. Until it’s time to “red-up” again.