What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and Tips to Cope During the Holiday Season
During the winter and holiday season, many people experience depression that can sometimes be debilitating. Add the coronavirus pandemic along with social isolation, and mental wellness can be severely compromised. This condition is what mental health professionals call Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include sadness and low energy displayed by extreme lethargy, sleepiness, irritability, crying spells, inability to concentrate and social isolation.
If you suffer from these symptoms, consult a mental health doctor for a professional diagnosis. Also consider these tips to help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
- Check in with those in your circle of support. We may not be able to get together as we could before the pandemic began, but there are creative ways to keep in touch. Video meetings have become increasingly popular and helpful. Also, depending on where you live, it may be possible to connect with family and friends in person while practicing safety protocols – like mask wearing, keeping at least six feet away from others and gathering outside or in well-ventilated areas – to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Mind your gut health. Increasing research has found a direct connection between our mental state and gut health. Be sure to eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet to ward off a drop in mood or low energy.
- Move every day. Exercise is very important in maintaining mental wellness, as vigorous movement can release feel-good hormones in the brain. Go for a brisk walk, run or find a workout online to get your exercise in every day.
- Give yourself some TLC. This year, many of us have taken on new responsibilities while continuing to take care our families, our jobs and everyone else. It’s not selfish to practice self-care. Don’t know what to do? Journal when you’re feeling down. Take a long, candlelit bath. Meditate or pray. Read inspirational books or affirmations. Do what makes you relaxed, happy and healthy while avoiding destructive behavior such as overeating, drinking alcohol or other harmful activities.