Dealing with Darker Days: Staying Happy and Healthy in the Winter Months

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The Wheel of the Year is turning, and the dark mornings have arrived. Daylight hours are dropping, and clouds are looming.

I always struggle at this time of Year. As much as I love Autumn, the lack of daylight hours creeps up on me and before I know it everything becomes that much harder. My motivation wanes (See the notable 2 week absence of posting this month) and the desire to spend my days under a blanket increases. This causes an ongoing battle in my head between the voice of reason- who reminds me that there are chores to be done, meals to be cooked and other tasks to be checked off the list… and the voice of lets-just-stay-here-and-do-nothing.

I don’t like feeling that for potentially six months of the year, I’m not able to do the things that I want to do, and the things I need to do. So for that reason I actively try to manage my Seasonal Affective Disorder, and I wanted to share with you what is working for me.

Disclaimer- I am not a doctor. This post does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your GP in the first instance if you are concerned about your mental health.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Taken directly from the NHS Website

“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.

SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.”

Symptoms of SAD

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • a persistent low mood
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
  • difficulty concentrating

How I Manage My Symptoms

Get outside or sit near a window

Spending time outside is the number one suggestion made to SAD sufferers, and for good reason. Not only does it boost your Vitamin D levels, it boosts your mood just by being outside. However this may not always be possible, or feasible to do. The next best thing is to sit near a window without curtains/blinds in the way so you get maximum light and a clear view.

SAD Lamp

I use a SAD Lamp in the mornings to get my day off on the right foot. I position it at arms length at about a 45 degree angle so its not staring me right in the face. SADA has recommendations for lamps here.

Vitamin D Spray

I use this spray to top up my Vitamin D, which plays a key role in the production of Seratonin.

Vitamin B Complex

The B Vitamins are important for our energy levels, and as a vegetarian I’m more at risk for B12 deficiency. They also aid in the production of happy hormones. Take your dose first thing or you might have trouble sleeping. I’m taking this one.

Plenty of Wholegrain Carbs

Wholegrain carbohydrates are packed with fibre and release their energy slowly. Whilst eating them doesn’t completely take away my desire to eat more white flour based carbs such as biscuits and cake during the dark afternoons, I know that I’m making a better choice for my health. And it goes without saying that eating healthily is always a good idea.

Things to Remember

Be Kind to yourself. No, really. The world will not end if you don’t keep your home spotless, or tick off everything on your to do list.

Do one thing each day for YOU. A few pages of your favourite book, a cup of tea and a biscuit, an episode of your favourite show. Whatever small thing helps you feel like yourself, do it. Even if it means leaving dirty dishes in the sink for a bit. Your health is so much more important!

The light will return.

Further Links

SADA.org

Do you have any other ways you manage SAD? Share in the comments what works for you.

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