A good balance between work and leisure time is essential to a healthy life. There seems to be a
chemical explanation for some of the depression problems that we may have overlooked. The dimmed
natural light of winter signals the body to increase the production of melatonin. For many of us who already
spend much of our time indoors, the increased production of this chemical makes it intensify. In some
people this can create a psychological reaction. Most people maintain their work and social lives at a
much more consistent pace throughout the year than did our ancestors in their subsistence farming or
fishing societies with their much reduced activity in winter. This problem has been labeled as Seasonal
Affective Disorder (SAD)
The IRPP (The Institute for Research in Public Policy (IRPP.org) an independent,national, non-profit
organization, Founded in 1972, based in Montreal).in a study released February 1, 2007 revealed that for
many Canadians the so-called “leisure-society,” in which everyone has more free time, is more a myth
than a reality. According to this report, the only winners in the “leisure society” are retirees and students,
while working parents are the biggest losers.
The IRPP suggests that retirees are one of the winners in the “leisure society”, meaning we have more
free time on our hands. Sounds great doesn’t it? Or does it? More free time with nothing to do will lead to
boredom, with all the accompanying problems, especially during the winter months in the northern
The primary feature of SAD is a pattern of depression that occurs with the onset of the winter months.
As the days become shorter, and the weather colder, there is an increase in depressive symptoms.
Individuals eat more, sleep more, experience chronic fatigue and weight gain. Some have described SAD
as hibernation during the winter months.
Individuals have varying levels of effects from SAD, ranging from debilitating to inconvenient. The
symptoms abate once the days become longer and warmer in the Spring. The hibernation is over for
Those who become depressed in the winter months want to know what they can do to combat this
depression. Because both biological and physical factors play a role in most depression, it is difficult to
develop an experimental study that will control relevant variables to produce definitive answers.
This is still a specific type of clinical depression, and diagnosis that is made by a physician,
psychologist, or psychiatrist and is based on symptoms and the history of recurring “winter blues” that
goes away in the longer days of spring.
Consider using hobbies for your retirement free time to help with the “winter blues”. Find yourself a
good hobby. A hobby is a great way to develop skills and even interact with other people. Some of them
will generate an extra income stream. A hobby builds on itself in a fascinating way. You start out knowing
nothing and gradually build a set of skills. Even if these skills aren’t particularly useful, the process helps
you learn how to learn. Once you’ve developed the first set of skills the next set is even easier.