With the change in seasons, the days get shorter, and winter starts to wrap its chilly arms around us. Some of you will love the cosy evenings in, big jumpers, and big mugs of hot chocolate. For others, this shift can bring a bit negative shift in mood. Although we go through the change in seasons every year, change always takes some getting used to. If you're finding yourself grumbling about the dark or feeling a bit out of sorts after the clocks changing, that's OK. However, if your mood takes a prolonged downward turn, it might be a case of the Winter Blues, or what we call Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or ‘the winter blues,’ is thought to affect as many as two million of us in the UK. It shows up with symptoms including depression, lethargy, sleep difficulties, overeating and irritability. These symptoms usually set in as the seasons change, usually around late autumn and early winter. SAD tends to ease off in spring, and then reoccur the same time each year.
Three Top Tips for Winter Wellbeing
Whether you’re going through a little annual weather adjustment or noticing possible symptoms of SAD, here are three tips for you to boost your winter wellbeing.
Embrace Natural Daylight
We're not exactly sure what causes SAD, but research suggests there's a good chance it's because we're not getting enough sun during these shorter days. Sunlight plays quite a big role in our wellbeing. It can affect our brain chemistry and hormones that regulate our mood, sleep and appetite. Getting outdoors when it's brightest outside, usually around noon, to soak up some natural sunlight can be a great natural mood booster.
Stay Active and Stay Connected
Depression often chips away at our motivation and diminishes the amount of enjoyment we gain, even from things we would usually look forward to. This might leave you wanting to retreat, stay under the covers, and avoid being around others. The problem with this is that being inactive and socially withdrawn creates more time and space for your mind to wander into negative thoughts. This can result in a downward spiral of unhelpful thinking that keeps our mood low.
When we talk about our problems, we often discover that others relate to the way we feel and we’re not as alone as we often assume. Turn to the people you trust and feel most comfortable with to share how you feel. They may have their own tips to share with you. If you've noticed your mood had dropped, and stayed low for an extended period (over 2 weeks) then you may benefit from more professional support. Contact your GP who can talk you through the different treatment options available – like medication, light therapy, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
By trying out these top tips, you'll be better equipped to handle those Winter Blues. Remember that you're not in this alone and there is help available for you if you find yourself struggling.