How to aid seasonal affective disorder

Even in a normal year, winter weather and long nights can take a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. This year with COVID, job losses and political issues can make normal winter blues even more challenging than normal, particularly for people who have SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder or depression. 

“All of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic and politics is making it harder for people to rely on coping strategies they normally use,” said M Health Fairview Psychiatrist C. Sophia Albott, MD, MA. “The pandemic prevents people from connecting with people, making it incredibly more difficult for some to get the support they need.” 

Albott gave some safe tips and coping strategies to help improve your mental health throughout this winter.
Connect virtually with your friends and family:

It’s not the most ideal option but scheduling an hour this time to talk on the phone with your grandma or your friend does help. It’ll not only make your day but it’ll make theirs too.

Prioritize sleep and healthy eating:

Lack of sleep is associated with increased risk for depression and other negative mental health effects. Studies suggest getting a healthy amount of sleep improves mental and emotional resilience. Albott also recommends paying attention to your diet and eating as healthfully as you can. Diets high in processed foods and refined sugars have been linked to worsening of mood disorders, including depression.

Stay active—inside and outside:

While going to the gym may be challenging or not an option to some due to COVID 19, there are still plenty of options to keep up a healthy lifestyle while at home. Online videos to guide at home workouts are always a good option, and outdoor workouts are still possible in the winter too. When you’re at home you have a longer amount of time on your hands that you can use to take cooking and nutrition to a whole new level. 

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