Winter is approaching, and with it the winter blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects between 10 and 20 percent of Americans, causing people to feel depressed or hopeless, disinterested in normal activities, and sluggish or fatigued. If you’ve recently suffered a loss, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be a double blow, intensifying those feelings of grief.
The symptoms of grief and SAD can be similar. You may find yourself feeling drained or fatigued, lacking in your normal levels of energy. You may feel like withdrawing or “cocooning,” and you may not have much interest in the activities you normally enjoy. Sometimes people with Seasonal Affective Disorder feel pessimistic or irritable, as do many people who are grieving. You might suffer from anxiety or lose weight for no discernible reason. Both grief and SAD can cause changes in a person’s appetite or sleep patterns.
It may be hard to hear, but dealing with these two issues means facing both problems at once.
- Combatting seasonal depression: Get as much natural sunlight as you can, and install bright light bulbs in your lighting fixtures to “trick” your body into thinking it’s getting more sun. You might even want to look into light therapy, sitting in front of a light box first thing in the morning each day, to help combat SAD. Even if you feel sluggish or fatigued, force yourself to go outside every day and take a walk. Focus on eating a healthy diet full of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables and fish. Surround yourself with supportive people, and avoid those who tend who affect you negatively. If you feel like you’re having trouble battling SAD on your own, consider therapy.
- Working through grief after a loss: The good news is that many of the same steps you’ll need to take when combatting SAD apply when you’re working through grief. Getting enough exercise and adhering to a healthy diet are important pieces of the puzzle, as is a good support system of people who will be there for you when you feel low. As with Seasonal Affective Disorder, you may not be able to get through it on your own and might want to consider a support group or therapy.
- The grief of bereavement requires more than SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder may seem life-altering, but it’s really just superficial. When the sun comes out again in the spring, it’s likely that your spirits will lift and your good mood will return. If you’ve lost a loved one, your life is forever changed but that doesn’t mean you’ll never feel like yourself again.
- Be patient with yourself. Grief is unique to each individual, and it takes time to work through it. Treat yourself the same way you’d treat another person in pain– with kindness, gentleness, and patience.
- Make time to reflect and remember. Take time, either by yourself or with someone else who loved the person you have lost, to think about happy memories and everything that your loved one meant to you.
- Do something to honor your loved one. It can be as simple as lighting a candle or as involved as planting a memory garden. You might volunteer at a charity that was important to your loved one, or attend a memorial service in your community.
At Greenwood Memorial, we can help you find meaningful ways to honor your loved one, beginning with a life-honoring service to mark the passing of a life well-lived. For more than a century, Greenwood Memorial Park has served the San Diego community, building a reputation for quality, sincerity and trust. We’ve done that by providing exceptional service, caring for people of all cultures and faiths. We are committed to celebrating the unique life of each individual while respecting the wishes of every family. Visit us today to see our beautiful grounds for yourself, visit us online or call (619) 241-4312 to learn more about all that we have to offer.