'Take advantage of this': Psychiatrist says warm weather can help ease depression, anxiety

If you’re feeling emotionally drained after quarantine or if the cold months make you feel fatigued and moody, the warm weather can help put a spring in your step.

Kaiser Permanente psychiatrist Dr. Humaira Siddiqi says the pandemic has pushed people to seek mental health care, calling it “an absolute surge”. She told ABC7 reporter Victoria Sanchez that professional help combined with the warm weather can ease depression and anxiety.

Along with the sun shining and birds chirping, there’s a COVID-19 vaccine. Things are looking up after hunkering down.

“Take advantage of this,” said Dr. Siddiqi during a Zoom interview.

There are a few reasons the spring and summer seasons can help. After a year indoors because of the pandemic, social distancing translated into emotional distancing and isolation for many people. That could be combined with seasonal affective disorder, when the cold months make you feel fatigued and moody.

“I always say, ‘Start small.’ Start by opening up the windows of your home, ventilate your living space. Get that fresh air in and refresh the air that has been circulating all through the winter months. You also want to spend time outdoors. Start with a walk, just by yourself. If you feel that you want to talk, talk from a distance,” said Dr. Siddiqi.

Think of your skin like solar panels and your body like a house getting energy from the sun. However, the emotional change isn’t like flipping a switch.

“Because guess what? Everyone else is feeling the same way too and that beautiful effect is called normalization. We have to normalize negative emotions. They’re not things to be afraid of, they’re not signs of weakness, they’re not character flaws, they’re also not biological flaws either. It’s just, when life impacts us in a way that we’re just not prepared for, it’s a beautiful opportunity to recognize that stress response, that emotional pain and say, ‘How do I fortify this? How do I make myself stronger?’” Dr. Siddiqi explained.

She says the pandemic game people time to take an “emotional inventory” to recognize what works in life and what doesn’t.

“Don’t stop. Now that things will start to normalize, this is a beautiful opportunity for you to reflect and keep that momentum going, keeping your mental health top game,” she said.

A “beautiful opportunity” with beautiful weather is the light at the end of a long year we’ve all been waiting for.


Originally published on WJLA.

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