Photo Credit: Jewish Press

According to The New York Times, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affects 5% of the population or roughly 1 out of every 20 people. The Mayo Clinic describes SAD symptoms as appearing “during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer.” Those symptoms include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

While those who suffer from SAD syndrome generally begin to feel the effects once we change the clock and the days get shorter, these symptoms have been intensified by Covid-19 and the way that the pandemic has changed our life. This means that some people with SAD did not see their symptoms fully disappear in the summer the way they normally would. So what can you do to try to heal these more intense symptoms even in this uncertain and difficult time?

  • Light machine. There are light machines that mimic the sun’s rays that those with SAD can buy and utilize in order to combat the effects of the changing of the clock. You can also set your light or shades to open a few minutes before you wake in order to stimulate sunshine even if there is none at the time.
  • Walk in the sunshine. This one seems like it’s cheating, but it’s pretty simple. Research shows that even just a 20-minute walk can help lift your mood. Not only do you get the light from the sun, you also connect with your environment. The people who might be out, the squirrels in the trees, and the sounds of the birds. This can help break the isolation that the pandemic has created.
  • Stay connected. Even if you can’t see people in person, stay connected on the phone and through video calls. This connection to other people is essential in keeping SAD and isolation at bay.
  • Seek help. If you feel that your SAD symptoms are more severe than previous years because of increased isolation, reach out to a professional. There’s never a reason to be embarrassed about being sad, but especially not in these crazy times.
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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.