Expert tips for coping with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The clocks will go back this Sunday, and during this time of year when the nights draw in earlier, it is common for people to develop and exhibit symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Martin Preston, Founder and Chief Executive at Delamere, shares some key tips on how to manage this type of disorder.
He says: “Seasonal affective disorder is met with a range of symptoms. These days, you may be sleeping more than usual and therefore finding it hard to wake up. Similarly, you may be experiencing a loss of interest in day-to-day activities and are feeling generally anxious, irritable and low.
“As difficult as this time of year may be, it’s important to know that there are plenty of proactive steps you can take to ease your symptoms.”
1. Surround yourself with daylight
As we head into the dark winter months, it’s important to make the most of daylight as much as possible. If you work indoors, open any curtains or blinds to let in as much light as possible. Another beneficial thing to do is to work by a window to make you feel a bit closer to nature and the outside world. Sprucing up the environment you’re in will also help. For example, you could invest in houseplants or decorate your home with wall art to engage your senses.
2. Maintain your daily schedule
The seasons are changing, but that doesn’t mean your schedule has to. If you’re used to going for a morning run, stick to this routine. The weather may be colder, but you can always wrap up. If you’ve gotten into the habit of going into the office more over the summer months, carry this on despite the chillier mornings. Setting yourself goals for the day will also put you into a more motivated mindset.
3. Exercise often
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which in turn has a positive effect on your mood. So, make it a habit of shaking away those winter blues with regular physical activity. If intensive exercise doesn’t sound like the best thing, perhaps just make it a target of going out for a walk every day – the fresh air will do you wonders! You may also benefit from engaging in mindful practices such as meditation to combat stress levels.
4. Eat well
Sticking to a healthy, balanced diet is certainly a positive step you can take to manage your seasonal affective disorder. After all, your brain functions better when you eat well. As the weather gets colder, you could also use this time to make warm, hearty recipes in the kitchen. From pies to spicy curries, be as experimental as you want! Be sure to also drink enough water throughout the day to keep you hydrated and energised.
5. Keep in regular with loved ones
Another common symptom of seasonal affective disorder is finding it hard to stay in touch with friends and family. While it can be quite tempting to stay secluded in your own bubble, it’s important to know that reaching out to loved ones will make you feel a little less in your head. With this in mind, make it a habit of regularly messaging people and organising catch-ups from time to time.
6. Amp up your self-care routine
Finally, for those especially tough days, having the best self-care plan for yourself is essential. In making this, think about what makes you happy. This could be your favourite series or perhaps something as simple as running a bath. Whatever it is, make sure your self-care plan is guaranteed to boost your mood or at least provide you with a sense of comfort.