From the season, to the pandemic, to our diets, there’s a lot of different factors making us “SAD”. Naturopath Bryce Wylde is helping you unpack the most difficult challenges we’re currently facing – for both physical and mental health.
SAD #1: Seasonal Affective Disorder
The Why: Often known as “the winter blues”, Seasonal Affective Disorder is related to changes in season. It often begins in the late fall and ends early spring. If you’re like most people with SAD, your energy is zapped and you feel anywhere between moody and depressed.
The Problem: A lack of sun, low vitamin D, low serotonin, and an imbalanced circadian rhythm can all contribute to feelings of depression at this time of year.
The Fix: To combat this winter sadness, spend some time outdoors, exercise, turn on the lights first thing in morning and supplement Vitamin D.
SAD #2: The Standard American Diet
The Why: In the 1950s a popular physiologist developed a hypothesis linking a high-fat diet to heart disease. He advocated for a high-carb and low fat diet that became popular for decades.
The Problem: While it may sound alright on the surface, the SAD diet is calorie rich and micronutrient depleted.
The Fix: Get more micronutrients, fibre and healthy fats in your diet! Consider “paleo” or intermittent fasting, eat a rainbow of fruits and veg, decrease bad fats and empty carbs and supplement with antioxidants.
SAD #3 – Stress, Anxiety and Depression
The Why: At the best of times, we can be prone to feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. During the pandemic, however, these feelings have been amplified for many people. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely, and can increase stress and anxiety. This heightened stress may cause:
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
The Problem: Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children alike. Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on can all contribute to anxiety and stress.
Fix: While you can’t always fix your stressors, you can certainly lessen the effect that they have on you. Achieving optimal sleep, adopting a mindfulness practice, practicing deep breathing and taking B-complex vitamins can all help lessen feelings of anxiety. Gut health has also been shown to play a role in overall mood, so incorporating probiotics and gut-healthy foods is a great move!
SAD #4: Self-Indulgent Alcohol Drinking
The Why: While drinking in moderation can be fun, increased stress and a pre-existing addictions can lead to unhealthy increases in alcohol and substance use. This is another problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic, as many people have turned to substance use to cope with feelings of loneliness, which can become a vicious cycle.
The Problem: Increased use of alcohol and other substances to cope with hardship is far from healthy. The team at Help.org published a new study that found many people have been impacted by drug or alcohol addiction as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of its core findings were:
- 32% of people have, or know someone that has, developed a drug or alcohol addiction problem due to the pandemic
- Amongst those impacted, 64% said that the new addiction is a relapse on a previous issue that had been fixed before the pandemic started
- When asked why the pandemic led to addiction, 36% cited the economy or losing a job, 36% cited the boredom of stay-at-home orders or lack of a social life, and 23% cited the depressing state of the world and news
- Amongst those that have yet to seek rehab for their addiction, 41% haven’t sought help over fears of contracting the COVID-19 virus
- Amongst those that have sought help, 82% said it was done virtually or through a telehealth service
The Fix: If you need help, talk to your healthcare provider or seek support at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.