"Daylight Savings Time" is an Everyday Mental Health Issue

Jordan Brown

I hate Daylight Savings Time.

OK, that's not really fair.

I strongly dislike having my body clock thrown off for an hour for no apparent reason.

If you're not familiar with Daylight Savings Time and its history in the United States, learn more here.

But this is not really about Daylight Savings Time.

This is not about losing or gaining an hour.

This is about subtle changes having big impacts--and about what you can do to understand how they work.

"Daylight Savings Time" is an Everyday Issue

We all have Daylight Savings Time in our life, even if you don't live in the United States.

We all have issues that pop up in our lives that don't seem major--but can become major.

If it's not a government shift in our schedule, it's someone else taking control of our schedule.

Someone taking control of our precious routine.

A family member telling us we have a new responsibility we didn't ask for.

A coworker attempting to subtly unload a task on us that we should not be responsible for.

It's all Daylight Savings Time.

Small Changes Can Have Big Impacts in the Long Term

This is a core concept in Systems Thinking, the idea that introducing a small change into a system can have a disproportionate impact on the system itself.

What happens when a new person joins a team or family unit?

It's only one person, so you would think the impact wouldn't be major, right?

Not exactly.

Because that one person introduces her own values, standards, and norms into that unit and, unless taught otherwise, can blow up the entire system.

How to Respond to the "Daylight Savings Time" Phenomenon

Since I just made up this phenomenon, I guess I should leave you with some takeaways, right? 😁

  1. Identify what has just happened - This is not always easy, but it's crucial to know how to prepare yourself.
  2. Remember the systemic nature of small changes - Remember this! Small changes can have large impacts down the road. Keep this front and center in your mind.
  3. Give yourself an initial adjustment period to get your bearings - It's OK to take time to reflect and try to understand what you're experiencing.
  4. Be mindful of the inputs into your system(s) - When you're dealing with a small change that is already throwing you off, be very careful not to introduce other small changes--or inputs--into the system. Several small changes introduced all at once can have devastating impacts on your life in the long term.
  5. But....remember that small changes can work in the opposite direction - You could introduce a positive Daylight Savings Time into your life. Getting up 15 minutes earlier each day might allow you to work out, or write, or call a friend. It's all about how you approach what you're aiming at.

And there you have it.

Daylight Savings Time is typically viewed as a needless disturbance in the U.S.

But understanding the concept of small changes can help you create positive disturbances in your life.

When you understand how something works at a deep level, you can use it to your advantage.

Now go create some daylight.