Ahuva Radzyner, LMSW – Therapist, Jewish Community Services
If you have been feeling less energetic and more depressed in the past few weeks, you are not alone. During the fall and winter months, an estimated 10 million Americans report increased symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
There are many factors that contribute to SAD including shifts to the body’s internal clock with seasonal changes, reactions to reduced sunlight, as well as family and personal history of year-round depression. At the holidays, some of our clients have told their JCS therapists that strained family interactions and lack of friendships trigger symptoms.
The good news is that there are several steps you can take towards relief.
- Add brightness to your living space. Don’t be discouraged by the early sunset. Set up a light box in your space or open window shades during daylight hours which can also help you to feel more positive.
- Spend time outdoors. Bundling up and taking a walk outdoors in the natural sun light may sound counter-intuitive, but it could help you to feel better. Walking briskly can also offer respite as you maximize the benefits of exercise.
- Stay active. Any form of exercise, as approved by your doctor, can help you feel better.
- Practice mindfulness. Find the best way to achieve relaxation and serenity. Try keeping a journal that documents how you feel at a given time or listen to your favorite music with or without guided imagery exercises. There are many apps and podcasts now that can help you practice mindfulness and meditation. Yoga is also a great way to feel calm and centered.
- Connect with a friend. Spending time with friends can be a pro-active step towards feeling better. Make sure they can provide positive support especially if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm.
- Seek professional help. Talk to your doctor or therapist about your symptoms and ask about treatment recommendations, including medication, that might be necessary to function or thrive.
Remember, you are not alone in feeling a little sadder and more sluggish during this time of year. The good news is there are steps you can take to feel better. Being proactive may be the best New Year’s gift you can give yourself!
Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year for all.
Ahuva Radzyner, LMSW, is a therapist at Jewish Community Services.
JCS has highly trained and experienced licensed mental health professionals (social workers, professional counselors, psychologists, psychiatric providers) to help adults, older adults, children, adolescents and families. We provide brief consultations, individual, couples, family therapy, as well as psychiatric services, psychotherapy groups and psychological testing.