Seasonal Affective Disorder – Coping with SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is thought to be common. How does the Winter affect your mood?

It’s that time of year again when the clocks have gone back and we start to see the Winter creeping in. What with the frosty weather and the dark nights, it feels like Winter is dawning on us thick and fast this year. For many of us, the dark nights trigger unwelcome feelings of sadness and worry. Around this time of year, we may experience low moods and lack of energy, as well as other, more severe symptoms. SAD affects different people in different ways.

What causes SAD?

SAD is caused by seasonal changes. People are most commonly affected during the transition into Autumn and Winter. The reduction in sunlight may cause changes to your internal body clock. It can also lead to a reduction in the ‘happiness chemical’- serotonin. Both of these things can leave you feeling down or depressed.

Top tips for dealing with SAD

If you or a loved one are affected by this in any way, we’ve put together some strategies for dealing with SAD.

1. Soak up the sunlight

Reduced level of sunlight may cause winter-onset SAD. Get outside as much as possible during daylight hours. This will help you get the vitamin D that your body needs to feel a bit brighter.

2. Get your body moving

Keeping active will help to prevent feelings of anxiety and depression. Light exercise can boost your serotonin levels. (Serotonin is the chemical that affects your mood. A lack of serotonin can contribute to SAD, so it’s imperative to boost this where you can.) Take a walk or jog in the daylight to get your body moving and soak up some natural light at the same time. Winner!

3. Surround yourself with brightness

Our environment has a big effect on our mood. Keeping your home light and bright may help to counter-balance the darkness outside. Light walls and furnishings will help to reflect sunlight through the window.

4. Light therapy

Artificial light can be a good solution when natural light is unavailable. Light boxes give out light that is at least 10 times stronger than standard home lighting.

5. Stay sociable through the Winter

Staying in touch with family and friends can help to boost your mood and reduce the Winter blues. The festive season provides more opportunities for socialising. Make an effort to catch up with loved ones and feel the benefits to your mood.

6. Forward-thinking

Give yourself something positive to focus on. This can help to distract your mind from feelings of sadness and concern. Find a fun project that you can work on at home and set some goals for yourself. This should be something that you’ll have fun doing. Your goal could be anything from knitting a scarf to learning to play a new instrument. Planning fun things in your diary will also give you something nice to look forward to.

7. Embrace the help that’s available

There are several different strategies that may help you to reduce your SAD symptoms. Speak to your GP about support groups and talking therapies that may be suitable for you. You can also check out the following links for online support with SAD:

These 7 tips can help to make the darker months a little bit easier for you. However, if SAD is having a significant affect on your life and your health, you must seek the help of your doctor. Your GP will be able to recommend the right support for you.

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