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Blog: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), (January 2020)

Seasonal affective disorder, often referred to as SAD or the ‘winter blues’, is a form of depression that comes and goes with the changing seasons. Most people’s symptoms start in the autumn and continue over the winter months. This year, in particular, due to COVID-19 restrictions, more of us may be experiencing SAD. 

You might notice things like your mood, energy levels, or sleeping patterns change when it gets colder. The symptoms of SAD often include: feeling depressed, losing interest in things you used to enjoy, having low energy, having problems sleeping, or feeling hopeless.

Living with SAD can be hard, but there are lots of things that you can do to help, including:

Getting natural sunlight

Getting as much natural sunlight as possible makes a big difference. You could go for long walks, spend time in your local park, or even just sit near your window.

Managing feelings of stress

You might find it helpful to think about managing your stress and any challenges that you might be facing. Think about the things in your life that make you feel stressed, like difficult relationships or a big workload, and make a plan to minimise the impact that they have. Making the time for relaxation is important too – our blog on relaxation tips and breathing techniques might be useful, which you can read here.

Looking after yourself

It’s important to look after yourself as your physical health can impact how you feel too. Try to get enough sleep each night as this can improve your mood and energy levels. Eating regular, nutritious meals can make a big difference too.

Exercising regularly

Regular exercise can be a great way to help with SAD, particularly if you can exercise outside in natural daylight. This can help to boost your mood, improve your sleep, and your self-esteem. This could be something as simple as walking a dog in a park, doing yoga, or going for a run.

Trying light therapy

Some people find that using a SAD light is helpful. These often are in the form of a lamp or an alarm clock that give off white or blue light and aim to replace the missing daylight that we experience during winter by mimicking natural outdoor light.

Talking about it

Being connected with those around you is important in reducing feelings of loneliness and helping you to manage SAD. Often if you’re feeling low, taking part in social activities can be hard. Connecting with others in a meaningful way can reduce feelings of loneliness and help you to manage SAD. You could call a friend, try volunteering, or join a club.

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