Check it Out: Seasons hard on our emotions



Whether you’re experiencing cabin fever, spring fever or a combination of the two, this can be a tough time of year for Northwesterners. By the time the last week of February arrives, the chances for a final winter blast are pretty slim, and we’ve usually had just enough spring-like weather to lure us out of hibernation. But just when thoughts turn to lawn mowers and barbecues, Mother Nature rains on our Easter parade by delivering freezing temperatures, buckets of rain, and sometimes snow. It’s enough to depress the sunniest of dispositions.

If, however, you find yourself energized by last minute injections of icy, chilly weather, but wilt physically and emotionally as soon as temperatures rise above 75 degrees, then you’re already aware that mood swings are not limited to the dark days of winter.

Dr. John R. Sharp, a prominent Harvard psychiatrist who specializes in attention deficit, mood and anxiety disorders, has helped many patients learn how to live better with what he calls emotional calendars. Many of us diligently update desk calendars, referring to them daily sometimes hourly. But in “The Emotional Calendar,” Sharp says we should pay just as much attention to our emotional calendars, noting how seasonal changes, milestones and anniversaries impact our mental well-being. For some people, fall and winter bring about feelings of malaise as the days become shorter and darker. For others, spring or summer can cause seasonal affective disorder.

By keying in to your emotional calendar, Sharp says that you can better control how you will respond to recurring events.

So, the next time you start to slide into a seasonal funk, pick up this book for a little equinox therapy.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at She blogs at