I have been bombarded with breath taking pictures and inspiring stories from people who enjoy the winter light. The sun hangs low in the sky, and the quality of the light is different. The radiant sunrise or sunset shines through delicate bare trees, making them appear black and lacy. The midday sun can be blinding and heat the inside of a car on even the coldest days.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression experienced at this time of year. One of the causes is lack of adequate sunlight. Full spectrum lighting as well as various antidepressants have been shown to be beneficial in combating SAD. Exercise and outdoor activities are also important. It helps to dress warm so the cold does not keep you locked inside, preventing you from engaging with the world.

Many of my friends cherish the beauty of winter through photography or other endeavors. I challenge members of a support group to find this beauty as well, feeling compelled to share with them the various experiences of my friends. I wonder if standing up to this situation – less hours of light per day – by communing with the light that is available will be a therapeutic form of self-help. It seems like an organic way to accept things as they are instead of wishing they were different. Being determined to find the magic hidden in the very thing that seems to be letting you down – the light – is a positive and assertive approach to dealing with SAD.

I feel like a conduit between my friends who love nature and photography during the winter and the people I serve as a counselor. I suspect that people who have difficulty at this time of year might benefit from a connection with groups in the area. Some hike, bird watch, play sports, learn new skills, create art and music and even practice speaking foreign languages. While the newspaper and television reporters focus on the problems in the Eastern Panhandle, this website highlights the positive attributes of our area. One can look through the sections of miburg.com and find ways to nourish the spirit artistically and naturally both inside and outside. Cultivating our own light and sharing it does not eliminate darkness; it enables us to flourish individually and as a community.

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