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Now that the hour has gone back – how are you feeling? Have you noticed a lack of energy, altering sleep patterns, changing appetite, or a shift in your mood? Do you feel like a completely different person from your outgoing, fun loving, sociable summer self? Instead of happy and carefree, have you retreated into yourself and now feel hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love?

If these changes are starting to impinge on all aspects of your life from your relationships and social life to work and your sense of self-worth, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression.

SAD – it’s treatable

SAD usually begins in autumn or winter when the days become shorter and remains until the brighter days of spring or early summer. If you have SAD, your body may not produce certain brain chemicals (serotonin) and hormones (melatonin) correctly. SAD affects 2 million people in the UK, particularly women and young people, and there are more than 12 million across Northern Europe. 

Our advice is not to brush off your low mood as “just the winter blues” but to do something about it. SAD is a very real and very treatable thing. It really is okay not to be okay and with the right techniques and treatments you can improve your mood and learn to cope with it.

Change your routine

So, if this all sounds familiar, what can you do about it? Put simply, a change of routine is the vital first step. Here are some top tips for making changes so you can kick SAD into touch and help yourself to feel better. It’s not just about adopting healthy habits, but also about making sure you get some fun and relaxation every day.

  1. Get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun/light. It will help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood.
  2. Increase the amount of natural light you your home – open blinds, curtains and sit near windows.
  3. Exercise regularly—preferably 30-60 minutes per day, anything from walking the dog to dancing. Continuous and rhythmic exercises are most beneficial.
  4. Eat right – prepare well-balanced meals throughout the day, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, ditch the sugary food and carbohydrates and go for food rich in omega 3 fats and things like oatmeal and bananas, which boost your serotonin.
  5. Manage stress – figure out what stresses you out and make a plan to minimise its impact – yoga, meditation can really help.
  6. Have fun – do something you enjoy every day. Make time for activities that make you happy, whether that’s a hobby or hanging out with friends.
  7. Stay connected with people – good relationships are vital when you feel like this so instead of retreating into your shell, call a friend for coffee or arrange lunch with a work colleague or neighbour.

If self-help, including lifestyle changes, do not work, there is always medication or therapy. But it’s important to do everything you can first before seeking professional advice and/or intervention. For help, advice and support so you can start to make tweaks to your daily routine, get in touch today.

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