8 Tips For Dealing With S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
30 Oct 2016
The clocks go back this weekend and while we gain a precious extra hour of sleep, for many this time of year can lead to a syndrome known as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
SAD is a type of depression associated with a lack of light. Most of us feel more cheerful during the long daylight hours of the summer months and are often less reluctant to venture outdoors on dark winter days. For sufferers of SAD, however, the change in seasons and the official end of ‘British Summer Time’ means mood and energy levels plummet. In the worst cases, this may have a major impact on your daily life. It is believed that SAD may affect up to two million people in the UK and over 12 million in Northern Europe.
If you are dreading the arrival of dark nights, the following tips may help to lift your mood:-
Ensure maximum exposure to daylight : Brighten up the rooms around your house by keeping blinds and curtains open during the daylight hours. If you can, sit close to a window at work to gain as much exposure to natural sunlight as possible. Choose pale colours for your home that reflect light and create a more soothing ambience.
Pamper yourself : A touch of self-indulgence always makes you feel better. Create your own mini-spa effect at home with scented candles and warm baths on gloomy winter nights for an instant mood-enhancer. Complete your pampering by moisturising with My Trusty body butter; packed with essential fatty acids it’s specially formulated to rejuvenate tired skin. With a blend of orange, bergamot and neroli it also uplifts and energises, making it ideal as a pick-me-up.
Get active : The same rules apply to physical activity in colder months as they do during summer. Get plenty of exercise, drink lots of water, ensure a healthy sleeping pattern and maintain a well-balanced diet. It’s not always as easy to achieve when the weather is gloomy but adhering to a regular regime will help you to feel better about life in general. Don’t overdo the caffeine and ensure your diet contains lots of fruit and vegetables to balance out the carbohydrates in potatoes, pasta and typically starchy winter food.
Stay warm : We all know the uncomfortable feeling of shivering in the cold with chattering teeth! Research suggests that keeping yourself warm can reduce the effects of SAD. Heat yourself up with regular hot drinks and food and dig out your favourite, winter clothes and footwear before temperatures start to fall. While indoors, keep your home heated to between an optimum 18-21C if possible. Remember that central heating dries out your skin so stay hydrated with a nourishing moisturising cream.
Try light therapy : Light therapy can help to improve the symptoms of SAD in some of the worst cases. Sufferers sit in front of a light box at home for anything up to two hours every day. Light therapy is available in a variety of forms from dawn simulators to portable light boxes which emit light much stronger than you find at home or at work. They are expensive, however so their use should be carefully considered.
Spend time with people who make you feel better : Positive time spent with family and close friends helps to ward off the symptoms of SAD. Organise regular get-togethers with people who make you smile and accept invitations to social events, even if you’re reluctant to attend. Sometimes just a brief period spent in the company of others can help to lift your spirits.
Get outside : Research suggests that a daily walk taken at midday may prove to be as effective as light therapy, plus it’s much cheaper! Weather (and workload) permitting, take a walk in your lunch hour. Remember to take care of your skin in cooler temperatures with suitable skincare products and use a sunscreen; UV rays penetrate even the murkiest day.
Don’t let it get too much : SAD can have a serious effect on your sense of well-being and in some cases may lead to depression. If things are beginning to overwhelm you make an appointment with your GP to discuss what steps you can take to feel better.
For more information on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of SAD, please visit the NHS website.
You may also find our previous blog on 9 ways of dealing with stress helpful.