Suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder?
With a week to go before we change the clocks and the nights drawing in, it’s really got me thinking about SAD. If you haven’t yet come across this, the NHS estimates that 1 in 15 people in the UK suffer from SAD.
Classic symptoms are:
- A low mood throughout the winter compared with summer
- Struggling to get up on dark mornings
- General lack of energy
- Lack of motivation for activities
I definitely find it harder to get out of bed on those dark winter mornings and I am already noticing my motivation for outdoor running is waning. I love a cold sunny crisp day, but unfortunately, we get so many days in the winter where you barely see the sky. This has an impact on my mood.
I’m lucky I just get mild symptoms but for some it can be debilitating.
Here are some things that might help:
Stay as active as you can
Starting the day with some movement that gets the heart pumping. This can be anything from dancing around your kitchen to following a HIIT workout on YouTube or a bit of resistance training. Any one of these is going to get your blood flowing releasing lots of lovely endorphins which will instantly lift your mood. It will also increase serotonin which will help you sleep better (making getting up a little easier) and fire up your immune system to protect you from winter bugs.
Grab the sunlight whenever you can.
Most of us are hugely deficient in Vitamin D and it’s so important for many things including regulating our mood. We can get a little from food but mostly it comes from exposure to sunlight so it might be worth considering a supplement, especially in winter.
Look after your nutrition
Winter months often leave us craving comfort food which include more sugary, processed foods and carbohydrates. They might make us feel better in the moment but will end up making us feel worse. To maximise energy keep your blood sugar levels balanced as much as you can focussing on low glycemic foods. Eat lots of fruit and veg to keep your vitamin intake up. Tip: swap white potatoes for sweet potatoes. Still a great comfort food but with a third more fibre and more than three times more vitamin C and A which support our immune system and can benefit mood.
Try a SAD light
If you’re working in a place with little natural light a small desk lamp used for just 30 min a day can boost your energy and mood.
Finally, if you find the symptoms getting worse talk to you GP. There are many treatment pathways including CBT.