Do you suffer from the Winter Blues or Season Affective Disorder? We put the clocks back at the end of October and gained that lovely extra hour in bed. But it’s also the signal that winter is just around the corner, the days are getting shorter, the weather is turning colder and it’s probably time to hunker down!
If you are one of the many people who find this time of year particularly challenging because of the lack of daylight, you may be suffering from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. Although no one really knows why some people suffer from this, the probable causes are thought to be that the seasonal changes disrupt our circadian rhythm (our 24 hour body clock) and also that our production of serotonin (our feel good / happy hormone) and melatonin (our sleep hormone) are affected as well.
Some of the signs of Sad
- Feelings of depression that happen most of the day, every day, in a seasonal pattern.
- Having tiredness or low energy.
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
- Changes in appetite or weight gain.
- Sleeping too much.
Even if you don’t have full blown SAD, so many people I talk to say how much they find this time of year depressing so I thought I’d give you some tips to help deal with those ‘winter blues’.
how to beat the winter blues
1. Buy a light box
Why not look into buying a Light Box or a special Light Therapy Lamp. I know one of my clients invested in one of these last year and really felt the benefit. Or maybe think about a Dawn Stimulator which is like an alarm clock but instead of beeping to wake you up, they produce light that gradually increases like the sunrise.
2. Do some exercise
I know it’s not as appealing at this time of year, but I promise you it will release those feel good hormones and endorphines, which may be lacking right now, and this will really lift your mood. My old favourite – just going out for a quick walk will do the trick. But any form of exercise is good, but if you can get outside it will give you that much needed daylight and fresh air. A chance to clear your mind and focus on something other than your worries or negative emotions.
I joined my local bootcamp at the beginning of October and I am loving it. Exercising outdoors, meeting new people, increasing your fitness levels and feeling energised is quite addictive! Even in the mud and the drizzling rain but afterwards I feel like a new person – awake, alive and invigorated.
3. Make connections and plans
It’s so easy to stay indoors and hibernate rather than make the effort, but being more sociable really should be a priority. Studies show that there is a correlation between isolation and low mood, and I think we have all realised this during the past 18 months of lockdowns. Even keeping in touch via zoom or phone calls is a good start and better than nothing.
4. structure and routine
Keep some structure or routine to your day and in particular to your bedtime routine. There is the temptation to sleep more, and people with SAD find it hard to go to sleep at night, so keeping a good routine is very important. Also making sure that you get outside into daylight at regular and predictable times will keep your body clock in line.
5. increase your vitamin D
5. Think about your Vitamin D levels. Research has shown that low levels of Vitamin D, which is often caused by a deficiency in our diet or lack of sunshine, are common in people with SAD . Try taking a good supplement, getting more sunlight (especially around midday when the sun is at its brightest) or increasing foods rich in Vitamin D. You can ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels.
top tip – START NOW!
I would definitely recommend starting right now. Try implementing some changes before it gets to the winter months and you are feeling at your lowest. Find times in your day or week when you can get more sunlight, reach out and meet up with friends, go outside for a walk or do some exercise, and eat as healthily as you can.
And remember in 6 weeks, it will be the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the days will slowly but surely start to get lighter again!
Do you have any tricks and tips that help you at this time of year? I would love to know what they are, and what works for you.