This week, a huge blizzard pummeled a good portion of the nation with snow and ice, shutting down major transportation routes and keeping hundreds of thousands of people home from work and school. Such a blizzard can be a welcomed day off for some. But for others, especially those with depression, being forced to stay home makes them feel especially isolated and lonely. If you are in therapy or counseling for depression, there’s a good chance that you and your therapist have spoken about the importance of staying in touch with people. When you feel blue, it’s all too easy to withdraw into yourself and your home. But that isolation only makes depression worse. Even if it’s just a phone call or a short visit with a neighbor, staying plugged in to your social support system is essential.
The isolation imposed by blizzards is much more problematic for people who have seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Known colloquially as “seasonal depression,” SAD covers people like a mood-dampening blanket as the days get shorter and the temperatures drop. While most depression is especially responsive to psychotherapy, SAD responds well to light therapy. For people who can’t get enough sunlight on a daily basis, light therapy replicates the mood-lifting benefits of natural sunlight. Daily walks during high-sun times can be useful, but blizzard conditions may make it impossible.
So when a blizzard strikes, whether you suffer from depression or seasonal affective disorder—or even if you don’t—make the most of your day. It’s good to stay in and relax, but don’t just tune out: pamper yourself with your favorite movie and a cup of hot chocolate. If you have family home with you, don’t let yourselves get stir crazy and agitated. If the weather allows, go outside and have a snowball fight. Or stay in, play games, bake cookies, and enjoy each other’s company. If you’re alone at home, don’t dwell on it: get out of your head by tackling a project you never have time for, cleaning, reading a book, and making a few phone calls to catch up with friends and family.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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