When SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) Meets Winter with COIVD-19, and Chronic Depression

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When SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) Meets Winter with COIVD-19, and Chronic Depression

As if it hasn’t been enough dealing with sickness, loss of loved ones, homeschooling, and all around trying to cope with a global pandemic, we are now about to enter into winter with darker days, and colder nights, and sometimes less motivation.  While this can be an extremely challenging time, check out some of these tips to help with prevention and intervention of the COVID-19 winter blues.

  1. Set Realistic Expectations – Sometimes we try and get so much done in a day that may not actually be possible amongst COVID-19 as well as dealing with increased challenging emotions due to the winter. We need to take a moment and think about what is actually doable versus what we would like to do.  Is there a task we have on our to do list everyday that never gets done? Maybe it is time to evaluate will that task ever get done and do I need to just take if off of my list?
  2. Our Coping Skills May Look Different – In the spring and summer spending time outside may have been a refuge among COVID-19 to help us get some vitamin D and to exercise. But when it comes to the winter this may not be as feasible.  This may look like taking a longer lunch to enjoy getting outside and working later.  It could also be trying new coping skills inside at night like crafting, puzzles, games, and learning about a new topic.
  3. Watch Your Screen Time – With so many people working from home it is easy to get sucked into the computer all day and then watching TV all night.  Our eyes and bodies really need a break from.  We need a break for our eyes, from sitting, and to connect with others as well.  Social media can also add to this challenge of screen time and increase our sense of insecurities as it relates to our comparison to others.
  4. Remember What You Have Control Over and What You Don’t – We can try and control many things in our lives to provide use a sense of stability and security. However, there are many things we don’t have control over.  Learning to recognize some of these can be very helpful as it can provide some relief as to things we don’t have to worry about. This will also incorporate aspects of acceptance and leaning into the challenges pieces that can feel hard to accept.
  5. Move Your Body – Many times people think you have to go to a gym to be healthy and workout, however, being healthy can come in many forms. Start learning what is helpful for your body. Sometimes this may look like stretching after or during a day of work, walking up and down stairs in your home or apartment building, or doing some bodyweight exercises.
  6. How Do You Fuel Yourself? – Think about how everything is connected, mind, body, spirit. By fuel I mean not only what types of food do you want to put in your body, but what types of things do you want to put into your brain and who do you want to surround yourself with.  Social connections have been a challenge with COVID-19, but they can also be just as challenging in general.  Are the people you are surrounding yourself with adding to your life or bringing you down?  This can also relate to what we put into our brains as it relates to media.  These things can have an overall affect on our mood.
  7. Spirit – This is an area that can connect you to our sense of self, nature, or inner child. What feeds your soul? This may be engaging in an activity that you used to do when you were younger that can bring back a sense of creativity. This could also be a connection to religion that can provide comfort.
  8. Reach Out to a Mental Health Clinician – If you feeling as though you are in need of additional support you can always reach out to a mental health clinician to learn how to navigate some of these challenging feelings.

While this is a challenging time, it is important to know you are not along and to be proactive if you feel a change with your emotions.  Remember it takes courage to ask for help and we do not always have to “keep it all together.”

Prepared by Sarah Richards, LPC of Brightside Counseling Services, LLC

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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5650 Greenwood Plaza Blvd. Greenwood Village, CO 80111