When I was a teenager, I used to get Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and would find I would get home from school in the dark Autumn and Winter months, lie down on the sofa and have ZERO energy to even get up to answer the phone, let alone tackle homework. I would dread the clock change every year.
Because of this, I made sure pretty much from then on to exercise or dance regularly during these darker months to keep my energy levels up and to just generally feel better and not let it get the better of me.
What is SAD? Also known as ‘Winter Depression’, the symptoms, according to the NHS include:
- a persistent low mood
- a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
- sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
- craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
To help others out there who find this time of year sapping, I’ve put together some survival tips:
- If you work indoors, get outside into the daylight at lunchtimes or breaks as often as you can
- Invest in a sunrise wake-up alarm clock to simulate a natural wake-up with warm, gradual light
- Invest in a SAD lamp or light box
- Take part in regular group exercise (e.g. tap dance, Zumba, spinning, running group). Group exercise will add a fun social element to your workout. Go, even when you don’t want to.
- Try to eat plenty of fruit and dark green vegetables to boost your immune system. I’m also taking Vitamin C & Zinc supplements to ward off colds at the moment (especially with commuting on public transport!) I tried taking Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) last winter, but I didn’t really notice any effects. That might be different for you.
- Stay hydrated – there’s so much heating on at the moment which can make you feel drowsy and dry
- While it may be tempting to cosy up in candlelight when you get home in the evenings, if you want to get anything done, put the lights on full until nearer bedtime. Don’t let early sunset steal your day! (I have to say I am very sensitive to lighting and have many lamps and candles about the house).
- Go for walks in the evenings – yes, even though it’s dark (don’t let the dark win!)
- Have a regular bedtime
- Put some things in the diary to look forward to – theatre trip, spa day, coffee with friends, family meet-ups, Christmas markets, carol concert, museum trip. On Saturday my SO, his sister and I went to see The Play That Goes Wrong in the West End, and I honestly haven’t laughed that hard in ages.
Let me know if you find these tips useful.
Do you have anything to add? What keeps you buoyed during the darker months?