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Seasonal Affective Disorder

In order to stop the spread of Covid-19, we been thoroughly encouraged to maintain social isolation and social distance, but this goes against the social nature of human beings. The uncertainty COVID-19 and all of the constant highlighted negative news exacerbate feelings some may have of helplessness, hopelessness, irritability, and confinement. Additionally, the winter months of limited exposure to daylight can encourage the onset of some degree of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Let’s be proactive in taking steps to mitigate what we can and remind you of things you can control.
 
We all heard of SAD, but what is it?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that typically begins when winter arrives, especially in areas largely affected by colder climates or have less sunshine. SAD can affect your mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels, taking a toll on all aspects of your life from your relationships, social life, work, and your sense of self-worth. During the "winter blues”, people may start to feel "down” when the days get shorter.
 
Many articles list signs and symptoms of SAD. That encourages people to look at them and check boxes to self-diagnose. Let’s leave that to the internet and take another approach. This approach intends to offer you some quick tips to consider when feeling a bit down during the winter months and to remind you that you are not alone, FLEOA is here for you.
 
Tip 1: Get as much natural sunlight as possible – it’s free!
Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun without wearing sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun). Sunlight, even in the small doses that winter allows, can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Take a short walk outdoors and increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows.
 
Tip 2: Exercise regularly—it can be as effective as medication.
Regular exercise is powerful on so many levels because it has been found to boost serotonin, endorphins, and other naturally occurring chemicals in your body that help you feel good. Studies have shown that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Walking your dog or taking a walk and waving to your neighbors or people on the street from a safe distance, conquers the need of social interaction and exercise. 

Keep in mind that maintaining a routine is significantly important for maintaining physical, mental and emotional health.

Tip 3: Reach out to family, friends & colleagues.
Close relationships are vital in reducing the feeling of isolation. The use of video chat will allow you to see the rewarding facial expressions many benefit from while engaging in conversation. Get creative, set up a dinner party/date with friends and family using video chat features. 
 
Participate in online social activities or physically distanced activities, even if you don’t feel like it. There are many Zoom events you can join and passively or actively participate in. This also gives you an opportunity to meet new people. Volunteer – helping others has been found to be the most rewarding.
 
Tip 4: Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings.
 
Tip 5: Take steps to deal with stress.
Practicing daily relaxation techniques can help you manage stress, reduce negative emotions such as anger and fear, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. There are many apps that have one-minute guided meditation. Slow deep methodical breathing also helps reduce stress.
 
Tip 6: Being creative helps, when you can’t be in control.
Empower yourself with learning something new. Challenge yourself with taking on a class that you never thought you would take.
 
Additional resources:
Feel free to reach out to whichever FLEOA Chaplain you feel comfortable with. They are here for you.
 
National Protestant Chaplain
Rev. David S. Lothrop Tel: (212) 924-0869 Tel: (845) 358-6421 Email: chap.dave48@gmail.com 
 
National Jewish Chaplain 
Rabbi Niles Goldstein. Cell phone: (917) 670-8214 Email: nilesgoldstein@hotmail.com 
 
National Catholic Chaplain
Father Joseph D'Angelo. Tel: (516) 672-3944. Email: skypylot1@aol.com 
 
Additionally, FLEOA is working closely with the Treatment Placement Specialist/Arcadia Health, who are available for you and your family. Bill Mazur and Joe Collins, both retired LEO’s, will talk/text/email with you and get you connected to a provider who is vetted and who is familiar with the LEO culture.  
 
The following resources are also here for you - peer support/No shame-No judgement: You can text "HOME” or "BLUE” to 741741 to connect with a counselor; call 1-866-Cop2cop; call blue line support 855-964-2583; call the National Suicide hotline 800-273-TALK (8255); The National Disaster Distress Helpline is available to anyone experiencing emotional distress related to COVID-19 - call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to speak to a caring counselor. Please use these resources, sometimes a mere connection will pull you out of a funk. 
  
Have a happy and healthy holiday season. Stay safe all.
 
 
Fraternally,
 
 
Dr. Jean Kanokogi, PhD
Director of Mental Health & Peer Support Services
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
Contact Dr. Kanokogi