Seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.) can be a hurdle for anyone and can introduce even more complications into one’s recovery journey. The effects of seasonal affective disorder can cause someone to feel more isolated in their daily lives and can add to feelings of depression that coincide with the dwindling daylight. This lack of light can take its toll on everyone, but it can be especially dangerous for someone in recovery who may already be experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression on a daily basis. Accentuating these feelings can cause someone to compromise their own recovery process, or begin to feel overwhelmed by depression brought about through the winter months. However, there are ways that someone can prepare for the inevitable loss of sunlight in order to help them better cope with the effects during their recovery journey.
Use the Sunlight You Do Have
During the time of both dwindling sunlight and dropping temperatures, it can be very easy for someone to rationalize staying inside all day, in the warmth of their homes. However, it is still important to utilize the amount of sunlight that is still present during this time. Even taking a walk as the sun is up can help someone get the breath of fresh air that they may need to keep their minds and bodies refreshed. Staying inside, while it may be the easier and more comfortable option, can make someone feel stagnant through their days rather than getting the motivation to keep the body moving in some capacity.
Try Light Boxes
Light boxes are a therapeutic tool that are designed to directly help someone cope with seasonal affective disorder. While there are a number of different options for light boxes that someone can choose from, they are all intended to provide someone with constant exposure to a soft glow of artificial light in order to distract someone from the dwindling sunlight of the season. Setting up light boxes in otherwise darker places, or places where someone would typically spend a large part of their day such as their office, someone can expose themselves to more appropriate levels of light that may help them cope with the depression brought about by S.A.D.
Create a Routine
Just because the amount of sunlight is decreasing through the winter months doesn’t mean that someone has to compromise their own days entirely. Creating a routine for someone in recovery can help them maintain a sense of control over their daily lives, and can help keep someone productive and proactive regardless of the time of day. By setting alarms for one’s self to get up in the morning, as well as proper times to go to bed on a consistent basis, can help someone begin to establish a routine to keep them on track and productive each and every day. Knowing that seasonal affective disorder can affect anyone, especially those in recovery, means that each person has ample opportunity to prepare their routines ahead of time, and establish their own best practices on a daily basis that can be accomplished regardless of the time of day.
This can also mean establishing an indoor hobby that someone can incorporate into their routine on a daily basis. Art, music, and cinema can all be adapted and used as therapeutic practices that can be done in the comfort of one’s own home. By exploring these kinds of opportunities and hobbies, someone can establish a routine that is both beneficial and doesn’t require a certain temperature or time of day in which they can engage. This also helps so that someone doesn’t have to feel they are left without an outlet if they are used to only utilizing outdoor activities when the winter season sets in.
Keep in Contact
Seasonal affective disorder can not only induce feelings of depression but also isolation. For those in recovery, this can be especially dangerous. Isolation is one of the first signs that someone is at an increased risk for relapse, and so addressing these feelings quickly can help them stay on their own recovery path. However, someone doesn’t need to go outside in order to keep in contact with important friends, family, or loved ones. Even calling a loved one after dinner, or sending an email or two a day, can be a constant reminder to someone that they aren’t alone, even if S.A.D is trying to convince them otherwise. Various video chat programs and social media can be a great way for someone to combat both isolation and depression by constantly having someone think of their established support systems, and using these supports through difficult times can make all the difference in one’s recovery.
Seasonal affective disorder can cause a number of complications for any person, especially if they are already experiencing their own levels of anxiety, depression, or are suffering from any other kind of mental illness. If you or a loved one are struggling with your own mental health, or are trying to cope with an addiction, the living communities of START UP RECOVERY can help you learn personal, practical skills that can help you take control of your daily lives. Your stay can be personalized to your strengths and goals in recovery, while also providing you the supportive and luxurious space to explore your own vulnerabilities alongside understanding peers and mentors. For more information on the various therapeutic approaches used at START UP RECOVERY and how they can be personalized to your needs, or to speak to a trained and caring staff member about your unique situation or concerns, call us today at (310) 773-3809.