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Top 10 Ways to Cope When Pandemic Depression Meets Seasonal Depression

Jennifer Fritz
Top 10 Ways to Cope When Pandemic Depression Meets Seasonal Depression
With pandemic numbers rising and winter looming, it is time to think of ways to cope through some of the more difficult periods. Those with seasonal depression often struggle this time of year because it gets darker earlier, there is less sunlight, and in many places, it’s cold.

Here are some suggestions that might help make you feel healthier and happier as you navigate this more trying time.

1. Don’t let the negativity of others bring you down

Stress and weather impact everyone differently. The important point is that you are not alone. Some people thrive on making others unhappy. Make wise choices about who you spend your time with. Toxic people influence your mental health, so it is critical to keep these people at a distance. You need to surround yourself with positive influences and energy, and that can even go as far as focusing on positive news sites. Build your tribe and keep the others out of your circle. Having strong boundaries is essential in making sure that you don’t let the bad energy of others drain what you need to keep going.

2. Stay social

Being in touch with others (the positive ones) doesn’t have to be dangerous. There are many safe ways you can interact with friends and family. This can happen even from a distance. Get an outdoor heater, fix up your garage, and invite a friend over. You can easily sit 6 feet apart. You can join a Zoom book club, cook dinner with a friend on video chat app, or even take a walk with a friend at the park. Some people have gotten involved in video game tournaments, movie clubs, or gone fishing (even ice) because there are ways to do many things safely. It takes more of an effort to be social, but that effort can pay off and help you feel good overall.

3. Exercise

Moving your body is one of the best ways to tackle depression. If you want to be outside, you can walk practically anywhere. Or, if you live in an area in which you can explore, maybe hike or bike. If you prefer to stay inside—or for the days where the weather makes going outside impossible—there are so many free apps that allow you to take a class. There is dance, barre, Pilates, and more—Just find something that you feel comfortable (and safe) trying at home. Yoga is also a great way to overcome your stress and it can be your exercise and mindfulness wrapped up in one.

4. Sunlight

Open your shades no matter what the weather. Even the smallest amount of sunlight can make a room feel cozier and that vitamin D is what makes you feel better and helps you sleep. When it is possible, get outside, even if you need to bundle up do so, and even for just a few minutes. Feeling the fresh air and daylight on your face really makes a huge difference especially when working at home. Additionally, there are light therapy lamps that you can buy that do ease symptoms and may even increase energy levels. Do some research or talk to your doctor about whether this might be a smart choice for you.  

5. Cook

For many, working at home has given people some extra non-working time each day because there is no commute. This downtime to either bake or cook has been very calming and creative for many individuals and family alike. Cooking can ease stress, increase mindfulness, and can teach patience. Having to follow a recipe is also good for focusing and can distract you from negative thinking. And best of all, when you cook, you have something to show for it at the end which is really rewarding during a time of stress.

6. Find a new hobby

Whether you start a new hobby or pick up something from the past, doing an activity that you find fun and entertaining can help you feel mentally productive on an ongoing basis. Hobbies can also help you unwind from a long day, work, or stressful situations. When the weather gets you down and you are stuck in the house, there are things like puzzles, scrapbooking, sewing, arts and crafts, and learning an instrument or a new language. If you can be outside you might start a garden or bird watch. Think about those times where you say “I wish I had time for…” and then do it! 

7. Sleep schedule

Maintaining a normal sleep schedule is critical during times of stress. It is common to experience nightmares and other troubles with sleep patterns, and one of the best ways to alleviate this is to try and keep a normal routine. Going to bed and waking up around the same time can really be a benefit. It even helps if you find a comfortable ritual before bed.

8. Things that you have been putting off

Whether it is tackling the basement, cleaning, or retiling the bathroom, having extra time at home can be a huge bonus in how you feel about where you live. If you reflect on the many things that you have wanted to get done and never had time for, this might be the time. Feeling sad and desolate about the dreary weather can really be hard and finding a long-term project can be motivating.

9. Acts of kindness

Acts of kindness (random or other) are one of the best ways to feel good about yourself. It improves wellbeing and lowers stress. Just as it feels good when someone is kind to us, it feels good when we reach out and can do the same without expecting anything in return. These actions make people feel happier which is a great stress reliever!

10. Get a pet

During the past nine months, animal shelters have reported that pet adoptions have risen to their highest numbers in years—some are saying ever—and that people are finding tremendous comfort in their new furry friends. Having pets provides people with a purpose which often helps you get out of bed and even out of the house. Even in the colder weather, some animals appreciate the sunlight and fresh air. Additionally, having a pet provides unconditional love and companionship and decreases loneliness. Pets also make you laugh, and according to the CDC, offer a variety of health benefits.

Stay On Top Of Your Mental Health

Staying on top of your mental health is the most important way to maintain it. This looks different for everyone. Some people will need to continue with (or begin) therapy, while others find that support groups, hotlines, or other resources are more beneficial to manage stress, anxiety, or the financial worries that have come with COVID-19. Additionally, those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder or depression might find that some of these tips help. Remember: Please either seek treatment or continue with what you have done in the past, as these are in no way meant to downplay the reality of how you feel.

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Jennifer Fritz
Jennifer Fritz writes for top10.com and is a Licensed Social Worker. She received her MSW and PhD from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and has been an online therapist for several years. She specializes in areas such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, anger, self-esteem and abuse.

Natural Intelligence does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.