mental health

Managing Mental Health During The Dark Pandemic Winter

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With the weather turning grey and COVID-19 numbers rising, it's easy to feel down. But it's the little things that can make a big difference.

"I do all the cooking at home, so that's sort of my therapy," said West Hartford resident Robert Saguisag.

In addition to cooking, Saguisag says his kids are a big source of happiness. In fact, he just had a great parent-teacher conference for his 6-year-old son.

"Just to see him succeed, to see my 14-year-old get straight A's over here at Conard just brings a ton of joy to me," said Saguisag.

Cheshire resident Sarah Miller isn't working right now and says that's been tough. Still, she knows it's important to take time to find her joy.

"Trying to find at least one thing every day that makes me happy. So whether it's a FaceTime with a friend or just getting out of the house and grabbing coffee," said Miller.

And thinking about what you're grateful for is a great exercise, says Quinnipiac University Medical School Associate Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Jeffrey Deitz. He says it's important to reframe your thoughts, to look at things differently.

"This is a time to really be thankful that you have family and people you care about that you miss. That's the most important thing: be thankful for the attachments that you have because if you didn't have them, you wouldn't be missing them so much," said Deitz.

Deitz suggests using technology in order to stay in touch with people you've been thinking about and to reconnect with those you've lost track of. He says 2020 can be looked at as an opportunity to take that extra time you may have and start that show or book you've been putting off. He also recommends trying to be in the moment.

"Go outside. Take a minute to breathe in the outside fall fresh air," said Deitz. "We're so used to holiday time doing, doing, doing that here's an opportunity to not do and to just be."

Regarding the holidays, some people are already putting up lights and decorating.

"If somebody said to me, 'Is it too early to decorate?' The answer would be no. It's never too early to do something active that would make you feel good," said Deitz.

Deitz says it's important to also take it one day at a time and to figure out how you can make today a positive experience. He says it's also good to remember that you're not alone.

"It's not you are in this alone. We as a country and as a people and a community, Connecticut, the world, we are in this together," said Deitz.

Dr. Deitz also recommends identifying stressors you have that you can get rid of. Also, write down what you're grateful for. He says you may be surprised how long your list actually is.

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