Here we go again, heading into the dark rainy winter months, and the pandemic is still with us. This holiday season is going to look different for many reasons, but we need to get through it together and also stay safe.
Many people are already struggling with seasonal affective disorder, a depression that hits during the cold dark winter months. On top of that, the pandemic has brought many challenges, like loneliness and financial struggles. It is important more than ever right now to make sure you are doing okay mentally as well as physically.
Make sure you are regularly communicating with your doctor, as well as a counselor or psychologist if you are having mental health struggles. It is okay to not feel okay right now, and that is important to remember.
Besides medication and talk therapy, there are other ways of creating joy this holiday season while staying safe. Whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice can help create more of the mood-balancing hormone serotonin naturally. Exercise creates natural endorphins which elevate the mood. Find a hobby that warms your body up like a sauna, warm bath, making a fire, exercise or a hot tub. Try connecting socially through virtual media by having a virtual dinner party, virtual game night, or writing cards to connect with loved ones. If you have the means to collect food donation items for the community, there are many food drives going on right now, and giving back to others always creates more joy.
Finding gratitude will also bring you joy, even if you can only find a few things each day, try writing them down. Gratitude helps you connect to the present moment, and when you find it, joy will follow.
Make sure you are also having your doctor check your vitamin D3 levels, which are typically low for people especially in the Northwest region. Vitamin D3 can contribute to feeling down, low energy, and decreased bone density. Other physiological reasons for feeling down could be hypothyroidism or adrenal dysfunction.
To put it plainly, we are all very tired of the pandemic, everyone wants this to end. But we need to keep moving forward, staying safe, and keeping the faith that things will get better.
If you are needing to talk to someone, reach out to a friend or family via phone. Stay in contact with your doctor and do not hesitate to tell them how you are feeling. Things may feel really hard right now, but there are people who care and solutions to help you make it through.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Hours: Available 24 hours. 1-800-273-8255
Allison Apfelbaum is a Naturopathic Primary Care Doctor at Tree of Health in Woodinville, WA. To learn more, go to www.treeofhealthmedicine.com