Do you have the winter blues?
Well, you are not alone with that. I have always found it challenging to survive the long and dark winters of my country but I get the feeling that this year, it’s going to be more difficult than it has ever been because in winter 2020, freezing weather and the lack of sunshine are not the only things to worry about ‘cause…..
Yes, you guessed it right! I was about to mention about the ongoing pandemic and its consequences – more and more countries are now going back into lockdown and while I do think that our absolute priority is to keep this pandemic under control and that imposing lockdowns does save millions of lives, I also believe that we should talk about the impact that the current restrictions have on our mental health. Do not get me wrong! I am not here to complain. I am here to share the way I cope with this whole situation, hoping that I’ll be able to help some of you.
A Recipe For Disaster
Living with OCD is not simple. Seasonal Affective Disorder (commonly known as the “winter blues”) is not the best thing to have either. And well…living through a pandemic is one of the worst nightmares that most people with OCD could possibly imagine. This whole situation really seems to be a recipe for the ultimate disaster.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- COVID-19 & constant worry about your loved ones/ your own health
- Lockdowns, curfews etc.
And the cherry on the cake is that it’s often difficult to talk to others about the way you feel because there’s always someone who will tell you that you should be grateful for the things you have in life and that there are millions of “other people who have it worse”. Well – let me tell you that I do know that other people have it worse than I do but being aware of their suffering has never ever helped me – on the contrary, knowing that I am luckier than many other human beings will make me feel guilty, it will make me think that I am a selfish monster and that I should “punish myself” for not being grateful enough. And I guess I could probably write a few more pages about the “others have it worse” phenomenon but that’s going to be the topic for another day. Because as I said, in today’s post, I would like to share a few things that help me keep sane in lockdown – while suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
First Of All – What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons – SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. if you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the well and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.
What Are The Symptoms Of SAD?
- a persistent low mood
- losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed
- low energy levels
- feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- having difficulty concentrating
- sleeping problems
- changes in your appetite and weight
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
I normally experience most of these symptoms every winter but this year, it’s been more difficult than usual – especially since the announcement of our national lockdown as many of the ways I used to deal with my SAD symptoms (such as going out with friends, visiting galleries, working from the office, going for an evening walk etc.) are no longer possible. So I had to come up with some additional techniques to keep my “beloved” winter blues under control.
How To Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder In The Times Of Lockdown?
1. Get As Much Sunlight As Possible
I have never been an early bird but this time of the year, I have no choice: I normally work from 9 to 5 and in my city, the sun goes down by 4 PM during the winter months so I have been trying to force myself to wake up early in the morning so that I could at least enjoy a few moments of sunshine before starting my shift.
Talking about getting up early in the morning – why not go running?
Regular exercise can boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. In fact, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Exercise can also help to improve your sleep and boost your self-esteem. (source: SAD – Helpguide) And well, in my case this regular exercise usually means running because that’s something I could get to enjoy but I am sure you’ll all be able to find what works best for you! 🙂
(P.S: Credit goes to Alexandra @Ouso Escrever who’s been telling me about the benefits of exercise for the past few months :))) please check out her blog! You’ll definitely love it)
3. Find A New Hobby
Having too much free time can be scary and fantastic at the same time. Scary because….well….you can spend a lot of your free time reading horrifying articles about COVID-19, worrying about the health of your loved ones, checking your cold symptoms on Google and self-diagnosing with coronavirus, drinking two bottles of wine in one sitting while worrying about losing your job – and well, this is my personal worry-list but I am sure we all have one.
Or….fantastic because a great way to cope with your anxiety is distracting yourself from it. So, why not find a new hobby?
Before the lockdown, I would have never thought that my new hobby would turn out to be cooking – like I used to be the one who accidentally set the kitchen on fire – but over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting better and better at preparing dishes and cooking will always make me feel relaxed after a long workday that I spend sitting in front of the computer.
Where do I get my recipes from?
From an Italian site called Giallo Zafferano – as far as I know it’s only available in Italian at the moment but I guess most of the recipes can easily be translated to English using Google Translate.
4. Eat Healthy
Talking about food – do not forget about the importance of healthy eating! Healthy eating does not only strengthen your immune system but it also has a positive impact on your mental health.
5. Take Vitamins – Especially Vitamin D
Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more articles about vitamin D protecting us from severe COVID-1 disease but did you know that low levels of vitamin D can also increase your risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Me personally, I did not use to know about it until one of my friends (who’s from Latin America but is living in Budapest) told me about his doctor prescribing him vitamin D for coping with “his low mood after moving to Hungary”. And it was not only his doctor who thought vitamin D would help but there’re many studies that arrived to the same conclusion.
6. Set Your “Lockdown Goals”
Setting goals helps you stay motivated! My goal is to learn Swedish at an intermediate level by the end of March – that’s when our winter officially ends! – as well as losing weight. Without having these goals, I think I would just keep thinking about the endless winter months that I’m going to spend in lockdown and about the hopelessness of my existence, but thinking about my future plans and taking action to achieve them help me se the world in a more positive way!
7. Throw An “Online Party”
One of the things I’ve been missing the most since the lockdown started, is socializing – but do you have to go to a pub to spend some time with your loved ones? Absolutely not! You can also organize an “online party” with your friends. Of course, it’s not exactly the same as seeing them in person but do not underestimate online get-togethers. They can be fun!
8. See A Therapist
Finally, I am not a trained therapist and my blog is just a platform where I share my stories and personal experiences hoping that they’ll be helpful to other people. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, the best possible thing you can do is seeing a professional therapist – that’s what I’ve done and it’s changed my life for the best! 🙂 Self-help resources are amazing but they do not replace therapy.
+ 1 – Stop Feeling Guilty
Yes, others have it worse. But this does not mean that you do not have the right to talk about your feelings and to try to do everything in order to feel better. We’re all human beings who have their own problems and we should stop comparing ourselves to other people.
- Catastrophic Thinking – Living In The Shadow Of Disaster or Life Is Like A Fairy Tale
- Why Excessive Hand Washing Is Not My Main “OCD Problem” During The Pandemic
- How To Keep Sane While Working From Home?
- Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and OCD
- Demons Are Real: Stop Negative Self-Talk!
As you know, there’s one thing I love more than sharing my stories: reading yours. How do you cope with the pandemic and the lockdown? How have you been feeling? Please share in the comment section!
And Most Importantly – Stay Safe!
I really hope all of you are doing fine and I am praying for your well-being and for your safety ❤ We are going through difficult times but we are all in this together.
Love you all ❤