Beating the winter blues

Do you feel yourself falling into a funk now that the days are darker and colder? The so called ‘winter blues’ affects many of us, but did you know there was a medical term for it? Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). 

Why do some people get SAD? Well, the actual cause of SAD is not fully understood. It’s believed to be related to a lack of light in the winter months and it’s also thought to be linked to the changing seasons disrupting hormones, such as melatonin and serotonin – which is what regulates your sleep and moods.

But despite its cause being unknown, SAD is more common than you might think. In fact, Micro Biz Mag found as many as 1 in 20 people get diagnosed with SAD and 1 in 5 admit to feeling low moods during the autumn and winter months. 

SAD can affect everyone differently, check out the symptoms below to see if you might be experiencing SAD: 

  • Difficulty waking up and sleeping more than usual 
  • Feeling tired 
  • Feeling hungrier than usual and craving stodgy and sugary food 
  • Gaining weight 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Feeling less sociable 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Experiencing a low mood 
  • Having negative thoughts 

However if you think you’re falling into a SAD funk there are a number of ways you can catch yourself and keep your mood and motivation high.

1. Improve your nutrition 

Small changes such as increasing fruits and vegetables, water intake & reducing processed foods, can have a significant impact on your health and well-being. Foods such as oily fish and nuts are great to combat depression, keeping your gut healthy and improving your mood.

2. Get active

We all know the positive effects exercise can have to improve your mood. Helping you to release feel-good endorphins will enhance your sense of well-being! 

Aerobic workouts – particularly done outside in the daylight or under bright light — can have a positive impact on your mood, releasing endorphins to balance out any possible anxiety.

Simply by getting a sweat on can be incredibly beneficial to your mood. If you’re looking for ways to get motivated during the winter months check out our recent blog. 

3. Lighten your mood with light therapy

It may sound silly but improving the lighting of your surroundings can reduce the impact low light (darker days) can have. 

For example, you could try a Lumie alarm clock to help you get up in the morning, you should also try to get outside during the day – this type of light therapy even for just 20 minutes a day can help trigger melatonin releases in the brain which improves your sleep and mood. 

4. Open up 

Christmas is usually a very busy time of year for many, with lots of family gatherings and Christmas parties taking place. While experiencing SAD you might not be in the best place to socialise but speaking to someone close to you about how you’re feeling, will give you that extra bit of support and understanding you need to improve your mood.  

5. Talk to someone, try Therapy 

Talking with a trained professional can help you identify behaviour patterns impacting how you look at yourself, talk to yourself and your self-esteem. They can help you to find your own answers to your problems and allow you to speak freely in a safe environment.

There’s no shame in seeking out psychotherapy, it could be the best thing you do.

If you are struggling during this seasonal period and are concerned about SAD, please talk to someone and go and see your GP.