AD| With the days getting shorter and the long nights slowly drawing in, it’s common for some people to experience low mood this time of year, often known as the Winter Blues or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
SAD is thought to be fairly common during the Autumn and Winter months, although I personally experience lower moods during the Summer; (typically known as “Summertime sadness” or reverse SAD). These low moods often stem from reduced exposure to sunlight, low levels of serotonin, high levels of melatonin, or disruptions to your body clock.
Like all mental illnesses there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to treatment, and if you are struggling I would encourage you to speak with your doctor. However, if you do find yourself with a case of the Winter Blues, there are a few things you can try at home to help relieve some of your symptoms.
Coping with the Winter Blues (SAD)*
Increase natural light
It can be tempting to shut out the gloomy skies by keeping your curtains closed during the day, but this can have a knock on effect. Instead start by opening your curtains daily and ensure window areas are clear to allow maximum natural light to enter.
Now that your curtains are open try sitting or standing near a window while your working or relaxing. This way you’ll still be able to see the outside world, even if you’re not able to get out and about.
It’s important to make sure your windows are clean and in good condition to allow natural light to come through more easily. If they’re not, or if you’re thinking of changing your windows, how about looking at some replacement aluminium windows* to give your home a fresh new feel.
Of course the best natural light is sunlight but it can be difficult to get outside with office jobs, school or college commitments, and even the weather keeping us indoors.
But if you can, bundle up and go for a walk or even a drive outside, even if that’s just for an hour on your lunch break.
Overhead lighting is great for overall brightness, but if you’re working in a dimly lit or windowless office, try asking for more light to be added to your work area. This could be desk lamps to help prevent eye strain or even a SAD light box which are designed to treat the disorder.
Make your room cosier
If it’s dark and dreary outside try and make your home feel more welcoming by adding comfy blankets or candles for a cosy feel.
Again, if your daylight hours are spent at work, school or college try bringing the outside in, with real or artificial plants to brighten up your work area.
Distract yourself with a new hobby
Find a new activity you enjoy (or rediscover one of your old ones) and completely immerse yourself in it. Not only will it be a great distraction from the dark, dreary weather outside, it’s also a great way to help SAD by stimulating the release of feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones (like serotonin).
My dad has started model building again and has been working on an Uncle Fester model kit recently. He always enjoys it and loves coming up with new designs. Now I’m not saying modelling will be for everyone, but something like that would be a great option to explore.
No one likes being cold, so it’s understandable how feeling cold can be a trigger for those with SAD in the Autumn / Winter months. Allowing yourself to be warm by wrapping up in warm clothing or snuggling up under a blanket may help you start to feel better.
Make evening plans
If the dark nights are something you really dread, try making plans in the evening, so you learn to associate them with something good and positive instead. Activities like going to the cinema, out for a meal, or even drinks with your friends are all great options to consider.
There are also a large number of seasonal events popping up this time of year too, from spooky Halloween fun to Bonfire Night displays and of course Christmas parties.
Talk to someone
As mentioned earlier in this post, if you’re struggling I’d encourage you to talk to someone you trust, get in touch with a helpline or see your doctor.
Have you been affected by the Winter Blues (or SAD)? What advice would you give to someone struggling this time of year? Let me know in the comments.