In Britain we’re not blessed with great weather, and as the winter months begin to draw in our days get shorter – which means less sunlight. We go to work in the dark and we leave in the dark, sometimes we don’t go outside during daylight hours until the weekend. This, understandably, can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.
If you feel like your mood changes in winter and you start to feel depressed, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Although it is most common during this chilly season, experts say that you can be affected by SAD at any time of the year, for example if there’s a period of bad weather.
SAD can affect you in a number of ways, according to the NHS website, these are the main symptoms:
- A persistent low mood
- A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- Feeling irritable
- Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling stressed or anxious
- A reduced sex drive
- Becoming less sociable
- Be less active than normal
- Feel lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
- Sleep for longer than normal and find it hard to get up in the morning
- Find it difficult to concentrate
- Have an increased appetite – some people have a particular craving for foods containing lots of carbohydrates and end up gaining weight as a result
Here are some of the ways I cope with these symptoms…
I have a SAD lamp which simulates sunlight. I have it placed on my dressing table and I sit in front of it in the morning when I am doing my hair and make-up. It is advised that you sit in front of it for a minimum of 30 minutes.
I find this lifts my mood in the morning and wakes me up. By the time I have finished getting ready I feel more awake and ready for the day. I had a period of low mood when the clocks went back, so unpacked my SAD lamp, which had been stored away during the summer, and set it up. Within 2-3 days I noticed a difference in my mood.
I make sure that I get outside on most of my lunch breaks at work. I hate the thought of not getting any fresh air or seeing sunlight during my working hours, so I make sure that I get outside for at least 5 minutes a day.
Lastly, and I’m not very good at maintaining this, but I like to do yoga. I sometimes go to classes, but I have started doing this more at home after work. I will be making a conscious effort to keep this up during the winter. I’m also planning on joining the gym which I hope will boost my mood.
Do you suffer from seasonal afffective disorder? If so, what do you do to boost your mood? Let me know in the comments below.