During the colder, darker days of winter, many of us suffer from the winter blues, often yearning for the lighter, warmer days of Spring to hurry back into our lives.
During these winter months, we often feel a little more lethargic and sometimes maybe even a little gloomy from the lack of light and warmth but typically, winter blues don’t usually hinder a person’s ability to enjoy their day-to-day lives.
If you do find that the winter blues are starting to really affect your mood, relationships, productivity at work and other aspects of your life, you may actually be suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
What is SAD?
SAD is more complicated than wanting to stay wrapped up in your cosy duvet and stay indoors all day, it’s actually a recognised mental health disorder that’s related to the changes in seasons. This form of depression can affect people of any age, including children.
Most people experience SAD during the cold winter months, although some people experience SAD during the warmer summer months (although this is much less common).
Seasonal Affective Disorder is often most common in countries like the UK that have large changes in the weather and daylight hours during the different seasons.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
Typical symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include (but are not limited to):
- Lack of energy for everyday tasks, such as studying or going to work
- Concentration problems
- Sleep problems
- Panic attacks
- Lowered immune system
- Social and relationship problems
If you (or someone you know) is suffering from SAD, try these tips to start making you feel better!
You may be lacking the energy (or motivation) to hit the gym but just simply getting some fresh air and going for a walk during your lunch break can help to improve your mood and give you an energy boost to get you through the rest of the afternoon.
Try to be outside in the daylight as much as possible, even if that means taking a quick 5-minute break or sitting near a window.
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Being cold may make you feel more depressed so wrap up warm to help reduce the winter blues.
Try drinking hot drinks throughout the day, having hot food for lunch, wearing warm clothing and setting your heating so the house is warmed up for when you get back home. You can also use exercise as a way to keep warm while you’re at work! Here are some workouts you can do from your desk!
One of the side effects of SAD is the temptation to overeat so try keeping healthy snacks to hand that you can pick on throughout the day if you get peckish. A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy, help to strengthen your immune system and stop you putting on weight over winter.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is often triggered by the lack of natural light during the winter months. Some people find sitting in front of a special light box for 30-minutes a day really helps. You can also buy a bedside light that mimics the sunrise and wakes you up gradually.
Taking up a new hobby keeps your mind active and helps to ward off some of the symptoms of SAD. Plus, you’ll have something new to learn that will give you something to look forward to and help keep you in a positive frame of mind. Here are a few things you can try:
If you or someone you know is suffering from SAD, talking it through can really help. Having someone to share your feelings with can help to ease any feelings of stress and anxiety and help to make you feel more connected to your friends and family. If you are supporting a friend or family member through a troubling time, here are some counselling skills that you can use right now.
If your symptoms aren’t getting better, visit your GP for further help. They may be able to refer you for CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Everyone’s affected differently by SAD, and what works for one person may not work for another, but there’s usually something that will help, so don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work.
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