Updated: Dec 30, 2021
If you find the winter months really difficult, you are not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short, can leave you feeling lethargic, tired, in a low mood or depressed, craving stodgy or sweet food, and suffering from poor sleep. All of these symptoms can vary in severity, and can make you feel like everything is simply really hard work and unenjoyable.
SAD is not a new phenomenon. The Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that people have noticed that the seasons can affect our mood for thousands of years but it was not until the 1980s that it was given its name. It is used for people who, although they sometimes become depressed in the summer, regularly become depressed in autumn and winter.
If you think you suffer from SAD, it may be a good idea to talk to your GP to understand whether you have SAD, or there is something else going on.
Here are some SAD tips to help you through to spring time.
Aim to get as much natural sunlight as possible by getting outside whenever you can and exercising regularly. Simply sitting by a window helps if you really don’t feel like going outside.
Try some relaxation techniques such as visualisation, focusing on breathing, listening to a relaxation recording or music, or doing something artistic to unwind
Look after your sleep - stick to a good sleep routine and avoid stimulants before sleep. Read the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker to understand the research behind sleep.
Check your diet and make sure you are getting the nutrients known to benefit mood and general wellness, such as omega-3 and 6.
Public Health England (PHE) recommend that people in the UK take a daily vitamin D supplement between October and March.
Some people find light therapy useful - please check details first as it is not suitable for some people, for example if you take St John’s wort.
Get support by visiting a talking therapist, such as a clinical hypnotherapist.
For more help - Mind