Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late autumn and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. SAD is a recognised as a mental health disorder, but there are ways you can help manage it.
Know that you’re not alone
SAD affects 2 million people in the UK. Don’t brush off your low mood as “just the winter blues” and understand that SAD is a very real and very treatable thing. It really is okay not to be okay, and with the right techniques you can improve your mood and learn to cope with SAD.
Eat yourself happier
Some foods can help increase your energy to help keep you going during the winter. Having a diet rich in foods such as protein, simple carbs and vitamins B12 and D, can help you combat the symptoms of SAD. Yes, that’s right, you now have a reason to eat some tasty carbs. Depression-fighting pasta and potatoes! But let’s not forget your fruit and veg.
Some may experience a lack of appetite during the winter months, and so can suffer from low energy. Ensuring you eat regular and balanced meals can keep your energy topped up ready for you to take on the day.
Light it up
Some people find that light therapy can be effective for SAD. Light boxes are designed to simulate sunlight and trigger a release of serotonin in the brain. Used regularly, for around 2 hours a day, the benefits of light therapy accumulate overtime. Although not available on the NHS, you can find SADA (Seasonal Affective Disorder Association) approved light boxes online.
Be aware of your thoughts. The way we feel is can be seen to be linked to how we think about the situation we are in. Are all your thoughts negative? Challenge your thinking! What evidence do you have for this thought? If I look at this situation differently, does it change how I feel? Challenging your thoughts is a great technique commonly used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Plan ahead and avoid stress
Many people can find the later months of the year stressful. and with 2020’s added pressures we may all be feeling more anxiety than usual. Feeling stressed can make symptoms of SAD feel worse and even more overwhelming. Try to plan ahead to reduce the number of stressful or difficult activities. Make time for yourself to relax and unwind and use techniques for managing stress.
Work it out
Our physical and mental health are closely linked. So, keeping your body fit can help combat mental health issues, including SAD. You don’t need to become obsessed with the gym. A simple one hour walk a day, can be effective in lifting your mood. Wrap up warm and enjoy a stroll in the fresh air, perhaps with friends or family.
Do you have any other techniques for combating SAD?
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