Daylight saving time and mental health: Tips for staying sane

It’s the least wonderful time of the year. At least when it comes to sunlight.

yes holiday season On us again. But so is darkness, thanks to the terrible tradition colloquially referred to as “turning back the clocks.”

Californians made their preferences about changing clocks known in 2018, however we are here (This proposal, if enacted, would shut down our state in standard time like its neighbor Arizona.) Both senators from California are federal sponsors sun protection act, making daylight saving time permanent across the country. He. She US Senate passed in March – and has been hung at home ever since.

Thus, daylight saving time ends on Sunday, November 6, 2022, at 2 am, and with it, the ability to experience sunlight outside of business hours also ends. You know the drill now: Set your clock back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday. Don’t forget your car. Your phone will most likely update on its own.

In 2021, The Times spoke to experts about mental health tips for surviving the season of lack of sunlight and seasonal affective disorder while maintaining your mental health. This is what they had to say.

Winter blues or seasonal affective disorder?

As many as one in five Americans report a “winter blues” that begins around this time of year: a case of late-fall funk that makes you more melancholy and lethargic. For about 1 in 20 Americans, symptoms rise to a level Seasonal affective disorder, or sad.

He said seasonal affective disorder is caused by prolonged exposure to darkness and cold temperatures Lawrence A. Balincas, a professor of social policy and health at the University of Southern California who has studied seasonal affective disorder. These changes disrupt our neuroendocrine systems, especially the hormones that regulate mood. Traditionally, human societies after the agricultural revolution harvested crops in late summer, preserved foods in the fall, then hibernated, staying warm and cozy indoors with the family in the winter. (This annual cycle of birth, growth, harvest and death is part of the reason Many societies have leave related to death This time of year.) Unfortunately, for most modern career paths, less sunlight usually doesn’t mean fewer hours, although you’re welcome to make a case for your boss in the field.

Winter depression usually involves temporary, low-level symptoms that don’t affect your daily life. You may sometimes feel frustrated or tired, but these symptoms go away quickly. If the symptoms interfere with your ability to be productive and enjoy life, it rises to the level of social anxiety disorder, a type of recurring depression. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include depression, lethargy, loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, increased appetite (especially carbohydrate cravings), feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, fatigue, excessive sleep, and decreased social activity.

If your seasonal affective disorder symptoms have risen to a level that you feel you can’t control with home remedies, or are disrupting your life to the point where you can’t function, it’s time to see your primary care doctor or mental health professional. You may need Psychiatric treatmentor medicine or Other alternatives To help control your symptoms.

seasonal affective disorder strategies

Even if you know why this happens, feeling social anxiety disorder isn’t a walk in the park (which gets darker at this hour). Here are some ideas and strategies for managing symptoms and keeping your mental health on track.

Try light therapy. SAD lamps are safe and effective as a treatment, although you should check with your doctor first if you have Two-way disorder or eye condition. You will get best results by using it for about 30 minutes within the first hour of waking up. If you don’t feel like buying one, take advantage of the natural southern California sunlight by making plans to go out for a walk during the day. (yes, You should still wear sunscreen.)

Make your space brighter. Go through your home and workplace and see if there are ways you can let in more of the season’s limited natural light. Could you move your desk or kitchen table to a brighter location? Move furniture that blocks sunlight from windows? Replace heavy curtains with sheer curtains?

“We are no different than flowers and plants,” said Erin Raftery-Ryan, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Westside Los Angeles. “If we don’t get enough vitamin D, we often will wither.”

Create a routine. Part of the reason our internal clocks malfunction when the clock on the wall changes is that it can force us out of our routines. Perhaps you are used to taking a walk after work or having coffee in the late afternoon on your balcony. Now, it’s black outside when you get up from your desk at the end of the day. Create a fun new routine for your evenings to help your mind settle into the new season. Routines give you something to look forward to and tell your mind what to expect, and they also reassure your subconscious that everything is on track. Think of how Mr. Rogers always so gently moved from the outside world into the house: a warm jacket and slippers, put things away, and a song. Maybe add some nice stretches near the window to your morning routine, or create a playlist that you play when your workday is over. Stick to a regular phone call with a good friend.

Move. Exercise can be a boon to mental health. Don’t worry about maxing out your heart rate or committing to heavy sweating sessions. Gentle movement can be good for your brain As a more intense activity.

“Whether it’s yoga, walking, or stretching – the movement in general will help get into the body and begin to open up the parts of us that may start to feel sluggish,” said Allison Simon, a yoga and meditation coach. In South Los Angeles, it’s less about sculpting our winter abs and more about “keeping this energy moving through the body, and keeping our blood flowing.”

Practice meditation and gratitude. Along with dying season and figuring out how to change your car clock, it’s time for gratitude. There’s a reason the phrase “try meditation” is often recommended: It’s clinically proven to work. There are millions of apps and YouTube videos to help you get started. Simon said that practicing gratitude can be especially powerful: “Instead of looking outside for ‘what I need’ or ‘what is out there in the world,'” [it’s] “How can I find gratitude for where I am, what I currently have, and what is currently in my world.”

Spend time with friends and family. People are more willing to meet in person now than they have been in the past two years. You can gather and still be aware of the coronavirus, especially in Southern California, where outdoor dining is a year-round option. If you’re away from family and friends, a Zoom party is still an option, and offers psychological benefits to mental health.

“Human contact is critical,” Raftery Ryan said. Her organization provides free Virtual Peer Support Group.

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