The cold weather and shorter days of winter have the ability to make even the most chipper of people a bit melancholy and tired. However, if you notice yourself feeling anxious, irritable and depressed as far back as autumn, only for it to disappear in the spring and summer months, it could be something more. If these feelings reoccur year after year, making it hard for you to function, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD affects around 2 million people in the UK and is caused by fluctuations in hormones that are sensitive to sunlight.
Don’t let SAD ruin your Christmas cheer – follow our simple tips below to boost your mood, even on the darkest of days.
Sometimes, when you’re feeling down, the last thing you want to do is move. On our down days, most of us prefer to pop our pyjamas on, curl up in front of the TV and hide from the outside world. While we’re not suggesting you run a marathon or hire a personal trainer the moment you feel a bit rubbish, fight depression by getting outside and moving. Exercise has been proven to release endorphins, serotonin and other feel-good brain chemicals. Try taking the dog for a walk, going for a light jog or even taking a class, you’ll totally feel like you’ve accomplished something – #win.
When SAD rears its ugly head, sometimes it’s super tempting to give up on going out altogether and binge watch Gossip Girl until the early mornings – but that can actually make things worse. Have you ever been so knackered you’ve decided to spend a weekend in by yourself, only to feel completely alone by Saturday morning, instantly regretting your decision to make no plans? Hibernating, while great at the time, does more damage than good. A new commission established by former MP Jo Cox states that ‘loneliness is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day’, so force yourself to maintain your normal social activities – trust us, you’ll feel better for it.
Create a sleep schedule
We’ve all been there – you go to bed on a Friday evening full of thoughts of Saturday morning get up and go, only to wake up at 3 pm in the afternoon on said day of productivity, having missed all but one hour of daylight and feeling completely disorientated and, eventually, miserable. Maintaining a constant sleep schedule can help those with SAD. Most sufferers report sleeplessness as a daily occurrence, along with feeling lethargic throughout the day. Try waking and going to bed at the same time every night, and avoiding naps during the day – your body will eventually get used to your routine, and you should start to sleep better.
See the light
Symptoms of SAD such as irritability, hopelessness, lack of energy and sadness itself respond well to light therapy. As Season Affective Disorder is triggered by the dark mornings and nights of winter, sufferers should purchase a light-box to relieve symptoms. Try phase shifting for 30 minutes each morning – the brightness of the box will help to combat feelings of desolation and fatigue. You could also consider installing shutters into your home by London based company LondonBlinds4U who stock a huge range of blinds and shutters that are perfect for battling SAD. Full Height shutters help SAD suffers to take advantage of sunny and bright days by allowing them to fully open the shutter, allowing light to flood the room.
If all else fails – take a holiday
Sometimes, all we really need is a holiday. If you’re suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, jet off somewhere different, ideally sunny and warm with long days and short nights, to combat the effects. (And take us with you please!)