Five Ways to Overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder in Winter
Winter is seen as a season full of joy and happiness with Christmas lights, presents and family celebrations that get us through the bitter cold days. But, for others, winter only brings an onslaught of depression which leaves them locked up inside their home. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression which tends to heighten or appear in the colder months rather than the warmer seasons (or for others, it’s the other way around).
If you suspect or know that you suffer from SAD, try following these top 5 tips on how you can overcome the condition this winter. You shouldn’t let SAD affect your happiness and prevent you from celebrating with the family during Christmas and New Year, nor let it impact your mental health for the many Winter’s to come.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Light
Light and brightness are vital for fighting off the winter blues. As winter takes over and we have reduced daylight hours, we have less exposure to sunlight which has been proven to impact our mood. Rather than suffering in darkness, we can expose ourselves to more light in our homes to try and tackle our SAD. Brighten up your living spaces with lamps, fairy lights and even brightly coloured pillows and throws. Whether you spend lots of time in the living room, bedroom or home office, you can make it an instantly happier place with more light and brightness.
While you might panic that the bills will rack up with all this energy use, you can switch your bulbs for LED lights which are both brighter and cost-cutting as they use 90% less energy. LED lights give off a more ‘natural’ spectrum of light too which makes them a great alternative to natural daylight.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Socialising
SAD is a form of depression so some of the symptoms can force you to isolate yourself from others. While battling with emotions that make you feel scared, unworthy and anxious, it is easy to feel that being alone is the best option. Instead, we need to fight this urge and try and spend time with others as much as we can.
Social interaction helps take our mind off of our pressing thoughts, and it lowers our stress; resulting in a boost of our mood. Talking with friends and family can benefit our overall mental wellbeing; by creating a support system, through the tough times and setbacks, you will be supported.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Exercise
Keeping fit and exercising can have a significant impact on our mental health and help fight against SAD. Exercising has mood-boosting effects which are as good as taking antidepressant medication. SAD can significantly impact your self-confidence and happiness in more sedentary people; often, this can stem from how we see ourselves already, but these emotions are heightened during winter when the depression kicks in.
Rather than let these emotions eat at you, try and stay active; whether that’s walking your dog, going for a run or having a gym routine. These are all great solutions to getting you out the house or on your feet, and to start producing more serotonin (our happy hormone!) – because we can never have enough of this.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and The Outdoors
When we watch the temperature plummet on the weather report while wrapped up in our cosy blankets, going outside is the last thing on our minds. But, if you suffer from SAD, going outside can have great benefits. Even if it’s cloudy (or starting to snow just a little), put on your winter boots and head out for a stroll. Going alone can give you time to sort through your thoughts while heading out with friends can boost your socialisation and mood.
Taking a walk outside exposes us to natural light which is key to lifting our mood. So, try and have a walk during your lunch hour, walk your pets or even have a pleasant Sunday lunchtime stroll around the park! Whatever you can do to get more UV exposure, I recommend that you do it because the benefits are totally worth the 15 minutes in the cold.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Therapy
SAD causes your mood to drop, leaving you feeling vulnerable to negative thoughts and feelings. The process of SAD isn’t as sudden as the snap of the fingers, but rather it builds itself up as the season’s change. You might be suffering from negative thoughts every now and then, and then in the middle of winter, it has progressed into a full-blown depressive state.
A therapist can help you understand why you are feeling or thinking a certain way. They support your whole journey; before, during and after experiencing SAD so that you can be as mentally strong as possible when the next Winter arises. With their support, you are able to find coping mechanisms that work for you.
Check out my website to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can benefit your situation with Seasonal Affective Disorder. With extensive experience in everything from marital issues to child therapy, there will be a way I can use my knowledge and skills to support your mental health.