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What can you do to lift your spirits during the dark Seattle winter?

What can you do to lift your spirits during the dark Seattle winter?

You may have heard of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, especially if you've lived or spent time in the cloudy PNW. It's a form of depression that can be influenced by the dark skies of winter, the rain and cold that may keep you inside, and results in depressed levels of serotonin and increased levels of melatonin in the brain. Having a serious illness such as cancer can often make symptoms of depression worse. Having to isolate from family and friends during COVID-19 doesn't make things any easier.

According to an article at verywellmind.com, “dealing with SAD during a pandemic that limits social interaction, many people are experiencing increased tension and anxiety. Additionally, job loss and changes in schooling for families may cause depression symptoms to worsen. Those with SAD may find it more difficult to overcome the symptoms.” 

If you have symptoms of SAD, such as feeling depressed, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, or changes in appetite and sleep, first talk to your doctor, to establish what the problem is. Doctors may suggest treatments such as light therapy. Open window shades and spend time outside when possible to maximize your sunlight exposure (but wear sunscreen – even in winter) or sit next to a lightbox specially-designed to help with SAD. Experts also say exercise can lift your mood and improve your sleep. Psychological methods through counseling, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and antidepressants can also help.

Here are a few resources to look at regarding SAD:

UW Medicine

Right As Rain

Harvard Health

American Cancer Society

American Psychiatric Association

But even if you are not suffering from SAD, we'd like to suggest a few things to do this January to help lift your spirits, especially while we are practicing quarantining and social distancing.

  • Walk in the Arboretum: there is even a special Winter Garden! The Arboretum is a living museum of beautiful trees, some with high conservation value. There are walking trails throughout the park.
  • Catch a glimpse of the water at one of the region’s many public beaches. Shoreline even has a winter off-leash beach at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park. Here’s Seattle Met’s list of best Washington beaches
  • See a free outdoor museum at Olympic Sculpture Park. Stroll through oversized art AND get spectacular views of Puget Sound.
  • Hike some of the region’s larger parks, such as Discovery Park, Lord Hill Park, and Point Defiance Park.
  • Some Seattle venues such as the Seattle Symphony, have virtual versions of their productions. You can listen to concerts from home. The Pacific Northwest Ballet also has a digital season. You can buy tickets to stream the ballets.

Finally, we have a limited number of free tickets to see the Chihuly Garden of Glass at Seattle Center. Please see our concierges for tickets and the venue's COVID-related restrictions at concierge@seattleprotons.org.