Winter’s a bit shit isn’t it? It’s cold, miserable, and worst of all – dark. All this makes the winter months some of the grimmest of the year, so it’s no surprise that it gets people down. However for a small number of people the winter blues can actually bring on the far worse, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
One study found that one in 15 people in the UK suffer from SAD, and this can have debilitating impacts on their lives. SAD causes lethargy, mood changes, and irritability, among other symptoms, and usually lasts for the whole of winter.
The disorder is believed to be caused by the increased winter darkness throwing off the body’s biological clock. This affects you in a number of ways, but most importantly the body’s production of serotonin, the happiness chemical.
Here are some tips for dealing with SAD.
Recognise the problem
Feeling a bit more tired than usual? Craving carbs like sweets and pasta? Struggling to ditch the duvet and get the bus to work? Well these can be early signs of SAD. Catch it early and you’re ahead of the curve.
Get more light
The dark can get a bit depressing so get out and have a walk about in the daylight. Open the curtains and let more light into your home. If you can, make yourself a brightness bunker, which you can retreat to on those oppressive winter nights. A great tip is putting your bedside light on a timer so that it goes on half an hour before you wake up, or even treat yourself to a dawn simulator. If the low cost measures aren’t working, you could always invest in a lightbox, to simulate bright light and improve your mood.
Get up and get going
Don’t nest in your bed, instead keep yourself busy and active, it’ll keep your mind off the dark. Make sure to arrange pleasant plans and don’t be afraid to confront negative thoughts. If you can treat yourself, do it.
Take up jogging
Exercise can be good for more than just your body and a workout can work wonders for your emotional health. Combine it with bright lights and you’re on to a winner.
Improve your diet
Stop stuffing your face with comfort foods. The majority contain sugars and starch which will give you a temporary boost, but will also cause your blood sugar to drop and cause a craving for yet more carbs. Get some healthier low-impact carbs such as unprocessed oats, legumes, almonds and walnuts, these are better because they’re high in protein and help keep sweet cravings down.
Meditating’s not just for new age hippies any more. Taking the time to relax and find some calm is reported to really improve the moods of those coping with SAD.
Talk to a professional
There’s no shame in not being able to cope and needing some help. If you’re really feeling down and it’s started to affect your life, you should talk to a professional like your doctor.