For many, daylight saving time in the Fall is just a matter of turning the clocks back an hour, but the fewer hours of daylight can have a dramatic impact on individuals in recovery or with mental health issues such as depression or season affective disorder.
This year, health professionals are especially concerned about the effect less sunlight will have on people due to the pandemic and the disruption it has caused in normal day-to-day functions. There has been an exponential increase in the number of people reporting anxiety and depression due to the severe impact COVID-19 has had on our lives. The cold weather combined with social distancing can present additional challenges to our mental health.
Make the Most of the Daylight
With fewer hours of sunlight during the day, it is important to try to make the most of out of our daylight hours. Make sure you make time to get outside during sunlight hours and engage in outdoor activities. It can be something as simple as relaxing or meditating outdoors.
Invest In a Bright Light
A bright light, like a lamp, especially in the morning, can make a big difference since in the Fall and Winter we often wake up when it is still dark outside. This light can help keep your circadian rhythm in balance and help your body recognize that it is morning as well as ward off sluggish feelings.
Maintain a Routine
It may seem hard to maintain a routine, especially when the days feel so short. You may feel the desire to end your days early if it is completely dark when getting done with work or errands. However, it is important to stick to a routine so you can not only get the most out of your day but also feel accomplished and fulfilled. If you have always gone to the gym or prepared your dinner after work, continue to do so, regardless of the darkness or cold. Also, try to get enough sleep each night so you can wake up feeling productive, ready for the day ahead.
Acknowledge your Feelings
You are not alone in feeling the mental impact of cold weather mixed with lack of socialization and sunlight. It is crucial to acknowledge these feelings and not dismiss or suppress them. They are valid emotions. If these feelings are interfering with your recovery or general well-being, be sure to seek professional help. At Lake Ave Recovery our masters and doctorate level clinicians are trained in these matters and can help guide you through this as well as other challenges in your recovery journey.