If every time the days start getting shorter and the temperature drops you start to feel tired and depressed, you could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. This common condition (which can also affect people during the Summer months) can ruin half the year for some people, but there are ways to take the edge off it.
If you’re not interested in talking therapies or taking medication, a few simple lifestyle changes can have a drastic effect on your mood and energy levels.
Light therapy lamp
Special SAD lamps are readily available to buy as a method of lifting your mood. The idea is that it simulates sunlight which tricks your body into decreasing the sleepy hormone (melatonin) and increases the mood hormone (serotonin). Its effectiveness completely depends on the severity of the seasonal affective disorder, but many have found it successful at boosting motivation and focus.
Hygge up your house
It can be easy to dismiss this whole miserable season when it’s causing such mental and emotional exhaustion, but consider embracing it this year. Decorate your home with scatter cushions and blankets, invest in some gorgeous earthenware mugs and fill up your wardrobe with fluffy jumpers and socks. Hang fairy lights and light candles, stretch the cosiest rug across your living room and enjoy the wintry atmosphere. It’s easier said than done, but sometimes just the thought of cold weather and darkness can make us feel down out of habit.
It’s common practise for people to take Vitamin D supplements now, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, and indeed they can be bought in any supermarket and health shop. It can take a few months for supplements to take effect, particularly in cases of severe deficiency, but getting into the habit of taking them everyday will at least hold you in good stead for next Winter. Always consult your doctor before taking supplements though, as it is possible to take too high a dose of vitamin D.
We’re not saying you need to eat salads all through the Winter. In fact, you’re best off putting on hold any serious diet and exercise regimes until the Spring. However, a menu of hearty vegetable stews and soups, chicken curries and homemade crusty brown bread is definitely the order of the day during colder weather. Don’t fall into the trap of comfort food and junk, because this will only make you feel ultimately worse. Allow yourself indulgences every now and again, but make sure you’re eating nutritionally balanced meals.
Make sure you own some suitably warm clothes and try to get in a daily walk when it’s not raining. Not only will the sunlight help stabilise your vitamin D levels, but the exercise will give you an endorphin boost and keep you feeling energetic. The fresh air is also great for making you feel calmer and refreshed. Plus, it will reduce that complacent, agoraphobic feeling you start to get when you spend too much time indoors.
If the weather makes it simply impossible to take a walk safely or comfortably, consider a daily practise of yoga or pilates to keep your strength up and lift your mood.
If you’re the kind of person who can take naps during the day without the circadian shift wiping you out further, take advantage of that. It’s normal to feel sleepier during the Winter months, and giving in to a half-hour to one-hour power nap at lunchtime if your schedule allows it will do you the world of good.