Seasonal Affective Disorder is a complex depressive illness that affects people the most at the height of winter and summer. Those affected experience fatigue, mood swings, and problems concentrating and anxiety; which makes coping with winter seem impossible and pointless. In order to cope with this illness, many choose to retreat indoors and isolate themselves but this only lowers their mood.
Here are my seven top tips for dealing with SAD:
1 – Try to maintain your normal routine. It is important to try to keep as much normality as possible; it will help to make the days seem easier to cope with. This will feel pointless at times, but when it does, break your routine down into smaller pieces to make it more achievable.
2 – Make plans with your friends and family that involve leaving the house. Whilst your house is very comforting, staying inside will keep you isolated and make you less likely to be sociable, which can damage and strain relationships. When you leave the house, make sure you take full advantage of the sun’s rays and soak up the little Vitamin D that is available. The combination of Vitamin D and the joy of seeing those you love is always guaranteed to improve your serotonin levels and make you feel loved which is invaluable in these dark times.
3 – Commit to a regular workout routine. Working out boosts your mood and gives you energy for the day, regular exercise will increase your serotonin levels with the release of endorphins. If you don’t normally workout, why not try yoga? Yoga has not only been proven to lower blood pressure and heart rate, it also helps to decrease anxiety, depression, back pain, stress levels and insomnia. Try not to push yourself to do more exercise than you feel you are capable of.
4 – Maintaining a healthy diet is also an important part of a healthy state of mind. Managing to keep a healthy diet can seem impossible as some SAD sufferers crave carbohydrates, and the temptation of chocolates and sweets around winter don’t make it any easier, but making that effort will benefit you in the long run.
5 – Make a playlist of your favourite songs and listen to it when you feel you need it most. Search through your favourite songs and select a handful that are guaranteed to enhance your mood and make you smile.
6 – Maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Try to get the recommended eight hours a night; at times you may need to sleep a little more, but try not to get into the habit of oversleeping, it can become a hard habit to break after a while and can make you more prone to mood swings.
7 – Consider using a light box. A light box is a device that contains bright fluorescent lights to increase exposure to light, which helps to recreate the effects of Vitamin D. Many SAD sufferers find that 10,000 lux is the most effective, but 5,000 lux can be just as effective. If you are unsure about using as lightbox, speak to a doctor about which one would be the most effective for you.
For more information on SAD or any other mental health issues please visit: www.mind.org.uk