At this time of year, it’s scientifically proven that many people can be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD (which is exactly how it makes you feel). It actually happens to a lot of people and is a bout of seasonal depression that is thought to be brought on by the shorter days and lack of daylight. If you’re a sufferer of SAD, or somebody who just generally struggles with low mood in the winter months, here are my top tips for coping with your feelings.
(NB: None of this is a substitute for professional medical advice!)
Look after yourself:
This is one point that I will always reiterate in any post I write about mental health and wellbeing. But looking after yourself is especially important in relation to Seasonal Affective Disorder. On these colder and darker evenings it’s easy to feel down so focus on yourself and your own self-care to help alleviate the sadness. Try running a hot bubble bath, light some candles, read a book or watch your favourite TV show. Stay warm and cosy with lots of blankets and copious amounts of tea. Maybe do a face mask and have a really good exfoliate. Staying clean is proven to help lift your mood. Surrounding yourself with things that bring you comfort should be a big help!
Focus on your environment:
According to shape.com “women who described their homes as cluttered or full of unfinished projects were more depressed, fatigued, and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than women who felt their homes were restful and restorative”. Having a tidy house and restoring environment around you is proven to be better for your mental health and happiness. I know tidying is a hassle, especially when you’re feeling low, but try taking small steps to decluttering and providing even just one room in the house where you feel restful and at peace.
This may sound obvious because but, trust me, it’s so important. During the autumn and winter months it’s actually very common to over sleep. I know what you’re thinking, sleep is the best thing in the world right? Not always, according to the NHS: “As the days become shorter, your sleep and waking cycles become disrupted, leading to fatigue. Less sunlight means that your brain produces more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy.” Over sleeping can actually make you feel more tired and can negatively impact your mood so keep an eye on your sleep cycle and make sure you’re getting a balanced amount.
During the colder months, it can become a bit of a habit to stay in every night and get cosy with a good film and a cup of tea. As I mentioned in the first point, this is fantastic sometimes, especially when you need to wind down and to get a good night’s sleep. But do remember that maintaining a proper social life is very important for your mood and mental health. Try to venture out when you can and spend time with friends and family. Actual human interaction is so important and spending an hour with a close friend can dramatically impact your mood. Try to maintain a good balance in social life and home life. Maybe even try and have some friends round to your house for a movie night to combine these two points!
Even though you’re likely to crave carbohydrates and fatty foods when you’re feeling low, remember to have hot, nutritional meals in the evenings with plenty of vegetables or protein in them. Whatever your diet is, try to maintain the habit of having a hot meal at the end of the day; this is something simple that can actually do wonders for your mood on a cold, dreary evening. Also make sure you’re still getting the proper nutrients during these darker months, such as regular fruit and vegetables, in order to keep your body stocked up on vitamins and minerals that you can often lack due to less sunlight over the winter months.
Add some colour:
Adding some colour to your life is really something that you could try at any point in the year, however I would particularly recommend it during the colder, darker months. Adding a splash of colour to your life and home can be so beneficial and uplifting! Try to pick up some items that are bright, colourful and add some cheer to your home, wardrobe, or even garden. Maybe it’s a rainbow coloured clock or a bright pink cushion for the sofa; whatever it is, try to find anything that will brighten up the space around you. Whilst it won’t necessarily change the imbalance caused by the darkness, it may just provide the little bit of light that you’re looking for.
I hope these small pointers can help you to cope with those feelings of sadness during the winter months! Remember, if you’re struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, then you can check out the dedicated NHS page for further advice.
Do you have any further tips for keeping bright during the winter months? Share them below! We’d love to hear from you!