How to Reduce the Impacts of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Even if you’re not clinically depressed, you may still experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Sometimes known as the winter blues, SAD is a type of depression related to changes in season. When there is less sunlight and colder weather, affected individuals may experience fatigue, hopelessness, and depression. 

Unfortunately, current events only make matters worse. Social distancing and quarantine regulations make it difficult to see friends and family. Paired with the anxiety of not knowing what will happen in the future with COVID-19, overcoming SAD may be especially difficult this year.

This article will explore a few different strategies for coping with and reducing the impacts of seasonal affective disorder this year.

Use light therapy.

A light therapy box is designed to mimic sunlight. Regular daily exposure is believed to improve mood and sleep by affecting the chemicals in your brain that control those functions. 

Use a light therapy box daily for 20-30 minutes. Place it somewhere near where you’re working or hanging out - it should hit your eyes indirectly. Looking directly at the light can cause eye damage and headaches while shining the light only on your skin will have no impact. Keep the light within your line of sight, without overexposing yourself.

woman with seasonal affective disorder laying on bed

Stay active.

Working up a sweat is a great way to kickstart your endorphins while improving your overall mood and sleep. When the weather cools off, don’t throw in the towel. Instead, bring your daily fitness routine indoors. If you normally go on daily runs in the summer, don’t feel like you need to buy a treadmill to keep working out in the winter. Instead, explore different ways you can get your cardio in, without expensive equipment or extensive space.

Today, there are tons of resources online for developing your workout. Find accounts on YouTube and Instagram from trainers sharing workout videos. We also have a library of health and wellness resources you can utilize to develop your training plan. 

Use tech to keep in touch.

One symptom of seasonal affective disorder is social withdrawal. Unfortunately, being withdrawn socially is almost a given today with social distancing and quarantine rules. Fortunately, technology is widely available to us during this global pandemic. Apart from the widespread access to information, technology allows us to stay in close contact with our friends and family.

Even though you can’t have everyone over for dinner or meet out at the bar, it’s important to get regular social interaction. Schedule regular video calls with your friends and family to catch up and hang out. If you’re worried about not having enough to talk about (it’s okay, no one else has many plans either) do something more engaging like playing an online game together while on a call.

If you do choose to meet up with friends and family in person, your best bet is to do so outside, while practicing social distancing with all individuals wearing masks. 

Reach out if you need help.

2020 has been a trying year and if you regularly experience seasonal affective disorder, you may have an even harder time than normal. If you are having extreme feelings of hopelessness and sadness, don’t hesitate to reach out to a provider. Tools like Dr. On Demand let you schedule a virtual appointment so you don’t even have to leave the house to talk to a therapist or psychiatrist.

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