Seasonal Affective Disorder – what is it and 5 positive ways to deal with it

Happy mature couple drinking coffee together

With several weeks to go until spring and the warmer weather, this time of year can feel like a bit of an uphill struggle, with its long dark nights and chillier temperatures. While you might write this off as the “winter blues”, there may also be another reason you’re feeling a bit below par. 

Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mental health condition that often strikes during the winter months and is more commonly known as “SAD”. If you’re one of them, your symptoms could include feeling drained of energy, being unable to concentrate, wanting to sleep for longer than usual or mood swings. 

While SAD is often seen as a winter condition, it is a type of depression that can happen at any time of the year as it’s typically triggered when the seasons change. If you or someone you know suffers from SAD, discover five positive ways you may be able to help overcome the condition and boost your mood.

1. Make the most of daylight

According to the NHS, while the cause of SAD is not fully understood, it’s often linked to winter because of the lack of daylight during the shorter days. As the longer periods of darkness disrupt your body’s internal clock, it affects the parts of your brain that regulate the hormones such as serotonin and melatonin, which alter your mood.

This means that one way you may be able to deal with SAD and boost your mood is to get outside into the daylight, even when it’s cloudy. By doing so for just a few minutes you could boost your body’s exposure to the light it’s craving, which in turn could help lift your spirits. 

You might also want to consider light therapy, which involves sitting by a special lamp called a “light box”. Light boxes are available in a variety of designs, including desk lamps and wall-mounted fixtures. Nicola can attest to the benefits – she bought each of the team one as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago!

2. Brighten up your environment

If you work indoors and struggle to get outside during the short winter’s days, you may want to consider getting as much sunlight into your working environment as possible. This means opening your curtains as early as you can, adjusting your blinds so that the daylight can get in, and sitting by a window if you can.

3. Eat well

A good way to deal with SAD is to take care to eat as healthily as possible. According to Healthline, you may be able to improve your diet by eating food that includes:

  • Lean proteins such as salmon and some steaks, as they are rich in amino acids that have a positive effect on your mood
  • Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in seeds, walnuts and salmon, as these too could help boost your mood
  • Berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, as these can help reduce natural chemicals produced by the body that result in you feeling stressed
  • Less sugar. While sugar can give you a short mood boost, too much may result in a “sugar crash” that results in you feeling worse than before
  • Folic acid, which is found in leafy greens, oatmeal, oranges, fortified cereals, and soybeans. Research suggests it could help you feel happier through the production of serotonin. 

As well as eating properly, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated. Cutting down on your caffeine and alcohol intake could also help.

4. Exercise regularly

Physical activity can help boost your mental health as it releases feel-good endorphins that enhance your sense of well-being. Regular exercise could also take your mind off things, which could help you feel more positive. 

Any exercise that you do does not need to be intensive either, as you could go for a walk or enjoy a gentle bike ride. Furthermore, exercise could help you sleep better at night, which could also help you feel brighter.

5. Keep a diary

It can sometimes help to keep a diary, as you can take a note of your SAD symptoms and identify any potential patterns. By identifying the issues, you could then plan ahead or prepare coping mechanisms for days that are more challenging.

Get in touch 

We hope this blog provides useful information if you are feeling below par. Please note that this blog only provides a snapshot of information about SAD and the ways you may be able to tackle it, and should not be treated as advice or a comprehensive list.

If you feel you may be suffering from depression, please contact your doctor or appropriate mental health professional as soon as possible. If, on the other hand, you would like to discuss how we can help provide you with financial peace of mind in 2023 and beyond, please contact us on info@janesmithfinancial.comor call 01234 713131.

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