Some enjoy the dark morning starts and chilly weather, but for many it’s a difficult time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of seasonal depression which is particularly common during the winter months. For some people, the symptoms of SAD can have a significant impact on their everyday lives. These include: a low mood, a loss of interest in everyday tasks, feelings of despair and lacking in energy. Having the winter blues creates a cloud over the enjoyable things during the cold season. Fortunately, there are some ways to fight this feeling and minimise the effects on your everyday routine. Here are some of our tips to help you cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Get outside and exercise
When I think about winter, my initial thoughts rush to hibernating inside and watching movies. While this is all well and good from time to time, it is vital for your mental health to pick yourself up and head outside. Have you ever noticed that after a good workout you feel ten time better than you did before? Well, this feeling doesn’t fade away in winter! Developing a regular exercise routine during winter will recharge your energy and get you feeling productive for the days ahead. So, why not invest in some outdoor exercise gear and head out on a jog? You might find that you start to enjoy the crisp and refreshing air while embracing the nature around you!
Increase your Vitamin D intake
It is possible that Seasonal Affective Disorder is linked to a deficiency in vitamin D. Although it is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin” there are plenty of ways to get it into your system in winter. One of the ways you can do so is to implement foods which are rich in vitamin D into your diet. If you are a fan of seafood…you’re in luck! Eating fatty and oily fish frequently will help you to gain a healthy amount of vitamin D. If switching up your diet doesn’t sound like your type of thing, then there is always the option to take a daily vitamin D supplement. This will help to keep your body functioning during the winter months and also help to combat fatigue and depression.
Use light therapy
Light therapy can be a very effective way to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Using a light therapy box mimics outdoor light, which researchers believe causes a chemical change in your brain that uplifts your mood and reduces symptoms of SAD. Using light therapy can help with motivation to work and be productive, but it also helps with your circadian rhythm, also known as a sleep/wake rhythm. In the winter months, it can be harder to pull yourself out of bed when it is still pitch-black outside. Therefore, using a light box in the morning will help your body clock to understand that it is daytime and send an alert to your brain to wake up. This will help reduce effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder by restoring your body’s chemical reaction to light and increase levels of melatonin.
Be kind to yourself
It can be really easy to beat yourself up about feeling down during winter. In a time of festivity, you want to be just as happy as everyone else, right? But you need to recognise that the way you are feeling is totally normal and that many other people are in the same boat as you. You will have far more success if you are honest with yourself and recognise how you are feeling, while beginning to analyse the changes you could make to be happier. Take the time to do the things you love even more often. Winter is the best time to meet up with friends for coffee or to start a new project from the comfort of your own home!
As overwhelming Seasonal Affective Disorder can feel, it will pass. Hold onto your hope and practice the things that make you happy, even when your shoulders are feeling heavy. Remember that there is always going to be someone who will listen to how your feeling and guide you along the way. Your feelings do not define you and they will shift into a happier place before you know it. Soon spring will be upon us and the sun will shine again.