Are you feeling SAD?
You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD Â but did you know the NHS estimate it affects 1 in every 15 people in the UK every year? A less severe reaction to shorter, darker days known as ‘winter blues’ affects even more people so all tolled, most of us are affected by the lack of daylight from November to March.
But what can we do?
If you know me at all, you’ll guess that I’m not prepared to leave it there. I don’t want you to feel down, you deserve to have happy days, even in the winter!
So let’s have a look at what we can do about it. And I do mean we, me included, because just like other issues of mental, physical and emotional health, we all need to make sure we’re keeping up with the good stuff if we want to stay well. So here are my…
Â Top Tips for Warming your Winter
Get out as much as you can, whatever the weather. Wrap up and get as much daylight as you can. If you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, get out at lunch time (something that is good for you at any time of year!) and make the effort to get outside on your days off too. The seaside and country walks can be exhilerating on a bright wintery day.
Consider getting a high quality strong vitamin D supplement -be careful not to waste your money on the cheap stuff, check the dosage. The lack of sunlight affects our vitamin D levels and it’s the lack of vit D that is thought to be the reason for our low mood.
Do your favourite things – laugh, dance, sing, paint, play, walk, see friends, cinema, theatre, whatever your bag is. It’s so easy when the day gets dark early to think you don’t want to go out. Go out anyway. Or do things at home. Cutting down on the activities that make you happy won’t help make you happy!
Make like a bear!
It’s great to stay in and embrace the whole winter thing in all it’s glory. Make like a bear, stock up on lovely treats and hot drinks, get your furry pyjamas on, get your cosy blanket, light some candles and listen to music, relaxation tapes or watch a good film. And if you really want to make like a bear, having an excuse to go to bed early and get some extra sleep might not be a bad idea.
Or a cat…
Here’s a photo of my cat Cleo, sitting right by me as I write this, she’s 18 years old and sure knows how best to do winter! She lies in the sun in whichever odd triangle of carpet it’s shiningÂ on, pops outside while it’s light and spends the rest ofÂ her time napping in the warmest spot. We can learn a lot from our pets 😉
What are you putting in?
When you’re at risk of low mood, watch what fuel you’re putting in your engine. If it’s more fast food, comfort food, sugar or alcohol than usual, this could affect your mood the following day. Focus on some old fashion winter comforts like hearty soups, homemade shepherds pie and serving tea from a teapot. Remember too that you still need to stay hydrated even when it’s cold, especially if you’re spending more time in places with central heating and artificial light.
And there was light…
I know some people value having light therapy at home or at work during winter. Sometimes called SAD lamps or light boxes they mimic natural daylight to help ease the symptoms. Something to consider if you feel you need help.
Keep the faith til December 21st!
It’s easy to feel the light at the end of the tunnel is just too far off. Imagining the better weather that (hopefully) comes in April or May seems such a long way off. So I found it heartening the other day when my Mum reminded me that the days start getting lighter again on December 21st, Winter Solstice. Kind of nice to know we’re on the way out of the darkness even before January. Â Another example of needing to notice the good stuff.
Look and Listen
And my final tip is a couple of free resources which you may have already seen me post on my PeopleBooster facebook page. Both are visualisation techniques which rewire the brain into thinking you’re getting more sunshine. Although it might sound a little crazy, it really can make you feel a little brighter, why not give it a go. Eyes closed is best!
Just click either link below:
Sunshine for a SAD dayÂ Video
Winter SunshineÂ AudioÂ
I’m sending out warm love to you, to last all winter through. If you’re reading this across the world and feeling daily sunshine, send some over!
Take good care of your precious self, wherever you are,