Let's Talk About SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder, sometimes referred to as 'Winter depression', can affect many of us in the UK. I'm generally a very upbeat, content person, but I definitely notice a significant dip in energy levels, motivation and general mood and mental well-being at this time of year.
Like with many mental health struggles and symptoms, there is often a scale of intensity. Of course, there is always going to be someone feeling worse than you, but that doesn't make your feelings any less valid if you're experiencing symptoms. So let's talk about it.
The clocks have gone back. It's dark and dreary. It rains loads. If you have a long work day, you're starting your day when it's dark, and returning home from work when it's dark. It's no wonder SAD affects approximately 1 in 15 people in the UK between September and April.
We underestimate the importance of the sunshine for our health and well-being. So here are my tips to cope if you do think you have a mild case of SAD. These are also great to do year round, specifically between September and October to support your health through the season change.
- Get outside!
I am a total hypocrite here, because I really need to do this more myself. On the days where I'm outside during the daylight hours, particularly those crisp, sunny days we get in Autumn, I notice so many positive differences. I sleep better that night, I'm in a better mood, I don't feel sluggish, I feel calm and present. Even getting outside and getting sunshine on your face for 5-10 minutes can make a difference.
- Make the most of the season
Take advantage of those cold, dark nights and have a cosy night in doing something you love. Whether it's your favourite hobby, having a pamper, watching a great Netflix show or having friends round, making the most of evenings in is the best way to enjoy the colder months and stay positive.
- Don't forget nutrition and exercise
The majority of people consider Winter as 'off season' - a free for all where you can forget any fitness or nutrition standards and leave that kinda stuff 'till January. I'm gonna talk about this more in an upcoming post, but for now I'll just say - please don't neglect your body! The healthy foods you eat and exercises you enjoy to do year round should not be completely shunned. In fact, when you are feeling down on yourself, it's more important than ever to love and nourish your body, and give yourself the best chance possible to feel good. A workout is one of the quickest ways to boost your mood, as well!
- Talk about it
If you truly feel affected by SAD and notice you have a consistently low mood that can't be aided by things like this, talk about it! I guarantee you're not alone, as it's very common. Speak to an impartial professional, through your healthcare provider or a mental health organisation, and get the support you need.
Do you think you suffer with SAD? What is your advice for dealing with it when Winter comes around?