Managing SAD amidst an ongoing pandemic

Winter is coming. And no, I don’t mean that in a corny Game of Thrones kind of way — winter is literally coming. Each day that passes by during these closing months of the year brings with it that winter “funk.” The days get shorter and shorter as time trudges on, the nights have gotten almost too cold to bear and everything in nature seems to be dying. Add a global pandemic into that wintry mix, and this year’s end is sure to be an interesting one. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression as we all have come to commonly call it, is a type of depression often brought on by the onset of the winter months and is characterized by changes in appetite and sleep patterns, a loss of energy or interest in activities you might have once enjoyed and much more, according to the American Psychiatric Association. While SAD is something that I myself have never previously been afflicted with, the circumstances surrounding this year have made what was once a distant unfelt illness my current reality.

Let me preface this by saying that I never much liked the feeling of being alone. So, in an effort to avoid that feeling at all costs, I’ve spent most of my life being busy, thinking, “Hey, if I’m busy enough, I won’t ever be left to sit and think about how I really feel in the present moment.” If I don’t make time for it, then it won’t have time for me — naive as this idea may be, it was my motto for an embarrassingly long time.

An increased awareness of the dangers of being “busy” in light of the pandemic and an uptick in the infection rate in the New York City area have recently forced me to cut back on this “busyness” and stay home. So now, not only am I alone at home in the literal sense, but I am also beginning to feel tendrils of loneliness creeping into my life as I watch the days tick by in the blink of an eye, feeling purposeless, overtired and frankly, way too cold. 

If you’re in the same boat as me, struggling to battle SAD in the midst of our current world circumstances, here’s my advice to you: one thing, one day. Find at least one thing that you’d like to do in one day, big or small, and commit to trying your hardest to get it done. Whether it be cleaning out your closet or picking up that lone sock on the floor, do whatever will make a happier you; focusing not on the weight of the completion of your “thing,” but on the feeling of accomplishment that may stem from its completion!