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17160 Stephen Kalyta: Winter Blues a.k.a Seasonal Affective Disorder

“Success in achieving attainable goals is a great strategy to beat down a funk”

Article by 17160 Stephen Kalyta

Sherri Melrose, an Athabaskan University Professor, cites from her research in 2015 that Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) affects about 15% of Canadians from late Fall through to the Winter.
The lack of sunlight is a direct contributor, as this robs us of the necessary Vitamin D and can become cyclical in its recurrence. In the context of Cadet life, it is my opinion and personal experience that it may be exacerbated by the consequences of your performance in the previous term. Naturally, you may feel the pressure from academics, your military performance or physical performance.
For First Years, the Christmas break is over and perhaps represented the first extended respite at Home since joining the Forces. Being at Home for Christmas offers an opportunity to see old friends, but if they are not military, you likely noticed its far harder for you to relate to each other’s life experience. This can create a recurrence of being homesick if your parents live far enough from the College that weekend getaways are not possible.
This experience not only affected me but many of my “Anglo” classmates at CMR. To build resilience to SAD one needs more than a vitamin supplement. While at CMR, all of us coped by relying on one another for support. My “Franco” roommates would offer me a chance for a home cooked meal on the occasional weekend in Montreal. It also gave me an opportunity to improve my bilingualism and immerse myself into Quebec culture, and I believe I am far better for it. Of course, the model equally applies in Kingston and I would encourage local Cadets to open the doors to their home as a source of respite for your classmates that may be feeling a little homesick.
Hitting the gym and getting some exercise can also improve your mood, according to the Mayo Clinic, and I would personally agree. A good plan that you stick to in order to pull yourself up by the bootstraps demonstrates good self-management. Consider what kind of leader you will be seen by others if they view you cannot take care of yourself. Part of self-care is understanding how the environment may affect us and one of the causes could be Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is only temporary, and there is a stellar support network at the College you can leverage to make sure you stay in top form. Success in achieving attainable goals is a great strategy to beat down a funk.

2 Comments

  • Graham Keene 10700

    January 21, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Season Affective Disorder appropriately labeled as SAD is real and affects us all to some degree. It is indeed the lack of sunshine that is the culprit. I own and operated a Canadian Tire big box in Niagara and have seen first hand how the winter months always seem to drag down my staff. Up until 2 years ago our store was lit with low Co-related Color Temperature (CCT) antiquated lighting. CCT for you engineers is a measure of light source color appearance as related to a black body radiator. Usually measured in degree Kelvin, 6500K is sunlight and 2500K is a soft glow light bulb. We have evolved in warmth and sunlight much longer than our existence in the north. We have adapted to high CCT and need it for our well being. Two years ago we retrofitted our store with high efficiency led lighting with the motivation of saving 60% in energy costs compared to our HID technology. I was aware that there may be some additional benefits by taking advantage of a higher 5000K light source but to what extent was unknown. I was astonished how within a short period of time there appeared to be an overall better feeling in the store. Not scientifically measured but it just felt better. It wasn’t until after I had numerous staff memebrs approach me on how the store just felt happier did I become a believer. Incidentally we found our sales increased by 3% that against our peer stores. Could our customers feel the love too or was it just easier to read the labels. It is hard to tell but SAD regardless is real. So try to get some of that high CCT light on you and hang in there till the summer months shine again.

  • Phil Rushworth

    January 22, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Stephen,

    Another great article. I was also ‘saved’ by my franco classmates with homemade meals, a reprieve from college life and plain old camaraderie. I am still in touch with many of them today. You yourself told us that we would form bonds that would last a life time. You were right indeed.

    Graham,

    Thanks for your comment on the lighting upgrade as well. That is a double win, with measurable savings in hydro and a less measurable win with your employee disposition which I am sure had a fantastic impact on your customer satisfaction. Both big wins in the retail space. I honestly would’ve never considered this aspect as a benefit of upgraded lighting!

    Cheers,
    Phil Rushworth

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