02 Dec Is the season turning you into a monster? Understanding how to cope with SAD
Did you attend a Halloween party last month? Celebrations are getting frightfully bigger every year with fun-filled events, fancy dress costumes, delicious food and spooky decorations. But Halloween also marks a time when many people start to feel a bit meh! Is this the season you turn into a monster?
SADness can set in
The clocks went back a couple of weeks ago signalling the onset of winter. Darker nights have drawn in and colder temperatures are beginning to chill. Boo, hiss! It’s definitely not my favourite season.
Does the lack of daylight and onset of gloomy weather turn you into a bit of a glum ghoul or a sad spirit? Do you know someone who gets down and depressed during the winter? Well, it is actually a thing – Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short can affect as many as one in three people in the UK. It really shouldn’t be referred to as SAD because it’s a negative emotion and you need all the positivity you can get if you suffer from it!
“When it rains look for rainbows. When it’s dark look for stars.”
Are you feeling unsettled?
SAD affects more females than males. Typical! And I’m well aware of it because I suffer from SAD.
Many years ago I began to notice that around November I would start to feel grumpy, dissatisfied and restless. I felt as though I hated my life and didn’t want to engage with the people around me. When I had a job I despised doing, all I wanted to do was curl up and hibernate for the winter. Have you ever felt like that? I went on like this year after year until I recognised the pattern and started to explore why.
It’s pretty obvious when you think about it. The clocks go back so you get up in the dark. You go to school, college or uni and you sit inside all day, starring out at grey skies and bare tree branches until you come home, once again, in the dark.
I discovered that the further away you are from the equator the more likely you are to be affected by the winter blues. But it’s difficult as a teenager or young adult when it comes to understanding how to cope with SAD because some of it may be down to age and changing hormones. SAD often starts in your teenage years and as the season is upon us now it is the ideal time to look closely at how you feel. Start a journal today because if you spot any changes they’ll be taking place now.
Remember, SAD is not an excuse for you to hibernate or a reason to ignore daytrip invitations from friends or opportunities to get out and about. This is about recognition, taking responsibility and modifying your behaviour to adapt to the season and stay positive.
“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn..”
Symptoms to watch out for
- Low mood
- A lack of interest in things you normally enjoy doing
- Low energy
- This is not an excuse to drink more energy drinks
- Feeling less sociable
- Becoming more irritable
- Sleeping more
- Finding it hard to wake up
- Eating more
- Craving carbs especially bread, potatoes and sweet treats.
It’s important to eat healthily and stay hydrated. Eating junk food is not an excuse. In fact, if you do you put on more weight you’ll feel frumpy, which inevitably will get you down and make you feel even more grumpy!
“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”
How to cope with SAD
A good solution for the clutches of SAD is to keep the bright spark ignited within you by anticipating a winter lull and preparing to take positive action.
- Take every opportunity to get outside into daylight during lunch breaks
- Participate in outdoor activities at the weekend – football, walking, skateboarding, biking
- Step away from the computer, TV, games and your phone
- Eat plenty of fresh foods and drink water
- Sleep well
- Get a sunrise alarm clock
- Get a SAD light
Exercise releases endorphins in your body, which are natural feel-good chemicals that boost your system and help you to feel great.
Invest in a sunrise alarm clock instead of using your phone or a standard bedside alarm. A sunrise alarm will sing natural sounds instead of letting out a shrill beep or buzzing alarm. An accompanying light will gradually get brighter mimicking the rise of the sun to help you wake naturally, working with your body’s rhythms. Below are a few that I would recommend.
- Hosome Wake Up Light Alarm Clock
- Alarm Clock Wake Up Light – Te-Rich
- FITFORT Alarm Clock Wake Up Light
Purchase a SAD light – or a ‘happy’ light as I like to call them. These well-researched lights are medically endorsed and they work by stimulating the same chemicals in your body as sunshine. Switch the light on for fifteen or twenty minutes as you are getting ready in the morning, eating breakfast, putting your make up on or having a shave. It will lift your mood and make the winter season more bearable for you and make you more bearable for those around you J
Turn hibernation into fascination and celebration
I mentioned keeping a journal earlier to note down the changes you notice. In addition, before you go to sleep each night write down three to five things you have been grateful for that day. It could be your health, a friend, an experience you participated in, or an achievement at school. Noting the things you are thankful for will send you off to sleep in a happy mood and believe it or not you’ll also wake up feeling fantastic.
Stay positive, bright and shining and feel in flow throughout this winter.
“Winter forms our character and brings out our best.”
Choose the life you want to lead
You can find more resources and helpful articles in our blog series.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the winter season and whether it affects your mood. Tell me what works for you to stay positive and share your tips and photos with me via the social media links below or send me an email by clicking here if you want to talk privately about anything.
Embrace the darker nights and colder days and never be SAD again this season. Life is for living!