SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression brought on in different seasons. Most commonly, it hits people throughout autumn and winter as the dark mornings and evenings (or let’s face it, afternoons) creep in and the weather takes a turn for the worst.
SAD symptoms can range from severe to extremely mild, and many people experience some form of the disorder without even realizing it. The main things to look out for are:
- A persistent low mood that you can’t shake
- A loss of interest in normal everyday activities
- Feeling irritable
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling stressed or anxious
- Becoming less sociable
Below are some of our top tips for helping boost your mood this winter and keep SAD at bay.
1) Exercise often
No, this doesn’t have to mean long, grueling sessions in the gym (unless that’s what you enjoy). Exercise can be a stroll through the local park on your lunch break, a guided yoga class or hitting the weights at the gym. Find something you enjoy, schedule it into your weekly routine and it won’t take long for you to feel the benefits. You’ll feel more energized, more focused and productive, and as an extra bonus you might find you fit in your clothes a little better!
2) Get outside and soak in some sunlight (if you can find any!)
Vitamin D…. A vitamin that can be quite hard to come by here in the UK but is vital to our wellbeing nonetheless. Vitamin D gets soaked up from the sunlight and is important for a few things. First up, we need vitamin D in order to absorb calcium (which we should all know by now helps us keep those bones strong!). It’s also been shown to promote a healthy immune system and contribute to having a good mood so you can be jolly all Christmas. If you can’t get outside during the day, try to pick a seat close to a window to absorb as much sunlight as possible!
3) Avoid stress
I get it – you probably have a hundred and one deadlines looming before the end of the year, but it’s so important not to let stress take over. Whether it’s late nights in the office sacrificing time with your family, or a boss who just keeps piling on the work without any praise, ensuring you have enough time for yourself should be number one on your priority list. Although seen as a normal thing in everyday lives, the effects of stress on the body should be seen as more of a concern. From weight gain to high blood pressure stress is not healthy! Just chatting to your manager or colleagues about any struggles your having is a great place to start. Or why not take it further and look into a mental health and wellness scheme for your office?
4) Eat a healthy, balanced diet
How many times have you heard this one right? It’s boring to hear over and over again, but also, there’s a reason you keep being told you should eat a well-balanced diet. Vitamins found in fresh fruit and veg are key to keeping you energized, positive and productive. It can be especially hard around the Christmas period to stay away from the chocolate, alcohol and mince pies, but try to ensure you’re still getting your 5 a day, or even try to push it to 10! I promise this will leave you feeling more energized and better focused for the challenges you’re facing over the winter months
You may be able to ‘get through the day’ on a mere 5 hours of sleep but do you know what it’s doing to your body? Consistent lack of sleep can lead to some serious health concerns. Aside from the perhaps obvious tiredness and grumpy or irritable moods, a lack of sleep can contribute to higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Getting enough sleep (around 8 hours per night) can help clear your head and keep the SAD at bay.
If reading this has made you realise you’re not making enough time for yourself, or that perhaps you’ve been prioritizing other things before your mental health, then please take this as your sign to do something about it. Why not try a new exercise class? (we have a huge range available here) or even just chat to a friend or colleague about the stresses you’re facing. Whatever you choose, choose to look after yourself this winter.