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Coping with seasonal affective disorder and pandemic anxiety

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Eau Claire (WQOW) – As the seasons begin to change, many Americans start to feel a change in themselves.

The shorter days and colder temperatures lead to many feeling sluggish and like their energy has been zapped. Some will even experience changes in appetite and feelings of hopelessness. We call this seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

It has become common for people to experience SAD but this year, it’s about to add to the anxiety and depression that many have felt because of the lingering pandemic.

Corina Fisher, a behavioral health counselor at Prevea Health says right now it’s important for people to regain a sense of control.

“People feel a loss of control right now. I think a way to regain that sense of control is by looking at what we do have control over,” said Fisher.

Some things we can control: how much sleep we’re getting, how much and what types of food we are eating and how much we are exercising.

It seems easy, but for people feeling the impact of SAD and pandemic anxiety, it can seems daunting. Fisher says the best way to start – is to start small and look at it differently.

“It’s deciding that even though I may not feel like it, I’m still going to get outside and go for a brief walk. Even though my eating habits have not been the best when I’ve been stuck at home, I can take up a new hobby like cooking different types of food.”

Changing up your routine can also help. So can doing something you may not have the energy for, but you would do normally this time of year.

“Some people are experiencing the thinking process of ‘why bother?’ Why do anything right now? No one is going to see my house this year so why decorate? I think it’s important to get those holiday decorations out. It does give you a boost in your energy.”

Fisher says that people who have experiences SAD in the past should prepare for these feelings again and seek help if needed.

Given the stress that the pandemic has causes on multiple aspects of our everyday life, Fisher also says that people who may have never experienced these feelings before may in fact experience it this year. She wants them to know that this is common and that help is available.

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