Seasonal Affective Disorder and Grief
Seasonal affective disorder, what is it and how does it impact grief? Seasonal affective disorder is commonly known as it’s abbreviation SAD. SAD is a “mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. Seasonal affective order occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year.”
If you start to feel down and struggle with your mood and depression as the season changes, you are not alone. Over 3 million people in the US deal with SAD each year. Dealing with SAD is hard on it’s own; the ongoing Pandemic has the potential to compound the feelings of loss and grief.
Can SAD and Grief Overlap?
If you have lost a loved one recently and you typically struggle with SAD is there a possibility of overlapping symptoms? It is absolutely something to take note of and pay attention to because they absolutely can impact each other. The good news is that there are a lot of ways to manage both.
Whether your grief is new and constant or long term and comes in waves, the season’s changes can bring on increased grief. The longer dark days of winter make it harder to get outside and people become less active. It is harder to access fresh fruits and vegetables that give us nutrients that support mood and positive mental health. These are just a few of the reasons why the change in season can bring on SAD and put us at a higher risk for increased levels of grief.
There are so many ways to support your mental health and grief support at this time.
Stay connected with loved ones. Get together with friends to have a conversation or a good laugh. Connecting with other humans is one of the most important pieces of feeling hopeful as you work toward healing.
As the weather changes from sunshiny days to long and dark and cold it gets harder to go outside. This means less physical activity and less vitamin D. It is important to go out of your way to get outside. Take a walk and enjoy the fall colors. As the winter comes try and find an outdoor sport or activity that brings you joy and gets you moving. There is something about fresh air and open skies that are so healing.
Write about it
Journaling is a great way to get some of your feelings off your chest. Pull out a pen and paper or keyboard and write the first thing you think about. Write your feelings, your fears, write what you are thankful for. Getting something in writing can feel very therapeutic.
Plan something Fun to look forward to
Having something to look forward to in the near future can help you stay positive. It can be something as simple as going out to see a movie in the movie theater or something as big as a vacation to a warm location. Having something to look forward to can keep that hope and excitement for the future alive.
These are just a few great ways to be proactive about managing SAD and any additional grief that may be overlapping during this challenging season.
Additional grief support is available here.