With the shortening daylight hours, the winter blues are on the horizon. Some 2 million people in the UK alone, and 12 million across northern Europe, experience Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter months.
With the symptoms affecting everyone, from kids to adults and even animals, knowing how to beat the blues is crucial for a better winter period.
When it comes to fighting the symptoms of SAD, maintaining a routine is crucial. Routines help combat many mental health symptoms as they keep some normality in your life. So whether you enjoy a flavoured instant coffee first thing in the morning or go to bed with your favourite moisturiser on, keeping up a pattern can help ensure everything you need is done, even if you don’t want to face the day.
By having a set routine in place, you won’t become overwhelmed by decisions or get choice fatigue – meaning that you can continue living your day-to-day life without the added stress associated with finding something to do every day.
If you like a bit of variety in your day-to-day life and find routines constricting, you can add small touches. This can include changing your usual coffee flavour for a different one every day, changing the music you listen to during your commutes or showers, or trying to learn to cook a new cuisine each dinner time!
Another way to beat the winter blues is by warming up! Exercising is a great way of combatting low moods as it creates endorphins and releases cortisol. Whether going for a quick walk or challenging how much you can lift, exercise of all types helps release feel-good hormones so that even during your worst days, you can feel a little bit better.
It is also a great stress reliever; enough exercise and fresh air can help you sleep better at night. Adding exercise to your daily routine doesn’t have to be strenuous. In fact, it can even be as simple as having a 30-minute home reset where you spend your energy tidying up. Not only do you get the benefit of exercise, but a cleaner home too.
One way to help SAD is by doing light therapy. Making sure you spend as much time outside during daylight hours can help you get some of the sunlight you need. Keeping your curtains and blinds open during the day can also help. Set a routine of opening your blinds early in the morning to ensure you get some natural light into your home.
Investing in a light box can also help, especially if you live somewhere with little sunlight during the winter months or if you find rain is taking your daylight away too often. Sunlight alarm clocks can also help maintain your sleep pattern during winter months, so waking up in the dark isn’t as harsh.
Finally, you need to be kind to yourself when it comes to SAD. It’s okay to have tough days. Take care of yourself by allowing for rest days when needed. This can include spending time in bed or on the couch and enjoying your favourite foods.
Instead of forcing exercise on a day you really don’t want to, you can rest. You can always start over another day.
And knowing that you’re not alone is important. Even pets can get Seasonal Affective Disorder. So, being kind to yourself and others can help you get through the months – the sun will shine again!
The winter months can be difficult for many who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. With feelings of fatigue, sadness, and stress, it can be difficult to maintain a routine during this period when all you want to do is rest. Spending some time resting can be a good idea, but also maintaining some routine with the things you love most and practising self-care is crucial for making it through the winter.