Coping with the Winter Blues (SAD)*

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.

This is the view from my bedroom window at the moment – a vast open space and plenty of natural light coming through.

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.

Get outside

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.

Artificial lighting

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.

Keep warm

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.

19 thoughts on “Coping with the Winter Blues (SAD)*

  1. Lisa says:

    I have to confess straightaway that I am a Summer girl and I LOATHE Autumn and Winter. I don’t think I suffer from SAD but I definitely feel the cold and get very grumpy when it’s always raining (like it is at the moment). These are all fab tips, Kim, especially the one about plants. You know how much I love my garden so although my indoor plant game sucks, I do appreciate the value of green life, and how mood lifting they can be. Thank you for raising awareness of such an important issue, Lisa xx

  2. Kelly Diane says:

    Some great tips there Kim. I’ve been lucky so far this year that I haven’t suffered from SAD because normally I do. I think it helps that my partner has been on annual leave for the last few weeks and I think the company makes me feel better. I’m interested to see if SAD returns once he has gone back to work but I’d say that just spending time with those close to you would help because it passes the time and takes your mind off of how dark it might look outside.

  3. Charlene McElhinney says:

    Thank you for this post. Often we are all hit with these blues after summer as we come in to Winter. I totally agree about making your room cosy, taking up a new hobby, and of course talking to someone! This is sound advice lovely & such an important topic to cover. I enjoyed reading this!! Keep doing what you’re doing <3

    Charlene McElhinney
    https://CharleneMcElhinney.co.uk

  4. Jenny in Neverland says:

    Great post – I know a lot of people suffer with this so I’m sure many people will find this helpful! The first year my Generalised Anxiety Disorder started, I thought I had this. Obviously it turns out it wasn’t because it all continued after Winter had ended. So thankfully I’ve never suffered with SAD. I love cold weather, dark nights and things so I find I’m actually happier in Winter!

  5. Sophie Naylor says:

    This is such an incredibly important post as I think more people struggle with the mood as the seasons change than we think. Your tips are so helpful and I’ll definitely be taking them on board <3 x

  6. Bexa says:

    These are great tips, Kim! The colder and darker months can be a bit of a struggle at times so these suggestions are really helpful. I think getting some fresh air and exercise is really beneficial. Making your room cosy is such a good idea, the more blankets, cushions, candles and fairy lights, the better! <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  7. ash says:

    I feel happier in summer, and even into autumn, but I wouldnt go so far as to say I have SAD. Thanks for sharing though, it’s always important to talk about mental health!
    I think some people actually get UV lights to help ease it

  8. Sophie Wentworth says:

    These are great tips for anyone struggling! I actually think I have a version of this in summer, I’m so much happier in the colder months and I really like getting cosy in warmer clothing/ blankets and hearty food. I only really miss the light when it comes to taking blog photos! x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

  9. Hayley says:

    I’ve struggled with SAD for years now and find that my mood drops massively even on a dark rainy summer day. The best things for me are my SAD lamp (which is already in daily use because bah where did the sun go??) and high strength vitamin D tablets.

  10. Misa says:

    One of the things I love about autumn is how well the seasonal veg lends to hearty soups and stews. While I dislike the reduced light, cooking is something I really enjoy at this time of year.

  11. Ashleigh says:

    I’m someone that generally feels better in the colder months since I can get cosy and I feel there’s more events to look forward to but I totally understand how the dark and miserable days could affect people negatively.

    I’m pretty sure you can buy special lamps to help combat the effects of SAD. Your tips are also very helpful!

    Ashleigh | The Ashmosphere

  12. Casey says:

    I’m one of those weird people who actually loves wintertime! I think it’s just amazing to sit inside and watch the snowfall, sitting by a fire and just reading a good book.

    These are great coping mechanisms though for people who are affected by SAD. I think outdoor time and simply making evening plans would be the most effective for getting people out of the house and enjoying life!

    Casey | https://mccourtskee.com

  13. A Cup of Wonderland says:

    This is a great post – I’ve just started a full-time job so will be indoors most of the time and already I find myself just going home to bed. I think making your room cosy with plants and making evening plans might help me as it’s coming up to Winter.

  14. Rachel Wuest says:

    I already deal with regular depression as do many people who are impacted by SAD, and working in Alaska where the winter days are long and cold and being on a boat where my cabin has no windows is hard. I usually sleep with my door open to let as much light as possible in and sometimes embrace the dark with frequent movie nights!

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