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With temperatures getting warmer and days getting longer, many Canadians may be gearing up for fun summer activities. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for those experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
SAD can affect a person's mood with feelings of depression, anxiety and disruption to their sleeping and eating habits, according to CAMH. However, these health triggers are not just confined to the depths of winter.
Vice President of Mental Health at GreenShield, Harriet Ekperigin told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Thursday, the condition can impact the spring and summer months as planning or participating in certain activities can be an added stressor for those who may have health or financial reasons preventing them from participating, or for parents and mothers who take on the responsibility of planning the summer schedule for their families.
Ekperigin explains women often take over the summer planning for their children like searching for daycare options or planning ahead for back-to-school necessities like uniforms and school supplies.
An online survey conducted by GreenShield found that Canadian mothers spend 44 per cent of their time taking care of others over themselves, and 22 per cent spend less time on their mental health in comparison to women without children.
Additionally, various societal groups for women can also affect their mental health, the survey claims, as it reported 31 per cent of immigrant women in Canada spend less time on self-care practices and 15 per cent less time on their mental health than women born in Canada.
"There's just so much that we put on ourselves, that women especially, end up feeling the brunt of this kind of summer, springtime preparation and the symptoms of depression and anxiety are prevalent during this time," Ekperigin told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Thursday.
Making small changes in your lifestyle can be a helpful starting point to cope with SAD, explains Ekperigin, since many people might not be able to afford the time of an hour-long fitness class, for example, a brief walk or meditation can also help.
"We don't have an extra hour in our day to fill our cup with self care and to address our mental health but at least if you can carve out 20 minutes, 15 minutes of the day, just to start from there, even if it's just going for a walk or doing some deep breathing or meditation," she said.
Self-care practices like meditation can also include affirmations that can help rewire how we view ourselves and determine our self-worth, Ekperigin explained.
"Knowing our worth is really important, and using affirmations and meditations to reframe our internal dialogue can be a really powerful tool in helping us to understand our worth and where we're at mentally," she said.
Ekperigin also recommends finding professional help or helping someone you may know with SAD to find a therapist or mental health counsellor that can directly guide them through their seasonal depression.
"I think what people need to understand is that seasonal affective disorder is a mental health disorder, and by helping people to understand that they will be able to provide the support to a loved one or get the support for themselves that they need," she said.
CAMH also recommends setting a budget and taking time to plan summer activities effectively to avoid last-minute stresses. Staying active, maintaining a regular sleeping schedule and healthy eating habits can also help balance your mood levels, it says.
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