Help to fend off feeling S.A.D
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
As I was leaving Rotunda at the end of the day last week I was miserable. It was cold, dark and raining quite heavily; traffic was bad and as I got in to my car I thought about how it was this dark when I woke up that morning. I sighed as I thought about how I have to endure months of only seeing daylight on the weekends until spring and I wondered how the penguins in the South Pole cope when they have months of darkness!
I suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD is a type of seasonal depression which is caused by a lack of sunlight. When the dark nights draw in and the weather gets colder people can often feel depressed and isolated as their lives change from socialising over the summer and seeing friends to rushing home to fill their hot water bottles and load up on carbs.
While feeling this way when Autumn starts shifting into Winter can cause feelings of isolation and sadness for many people there are things that you can do to help however you should always discuss your concerns with your doctor if symptoms persist!
I have outlined a few blues busting tips that may help while winter is well and truly coming!
- Be a sun seeker!
While the days are shorter this time of year our bodies still need sunlight to thrive. Our bodies do fantastic things and one of these things we need sunlight to achieve! That is the production of Vitamin D. Having low levels of Vitamin D has been linked to depression, muscle weakness and even cancer. That is why it is important for us over the winter months to seek out as much sunlight as we can. Opening the curtains in the morning and watching the sun come up, making sure the blinds are open in your office in work and even taking your lunch break outside can all be helpful in boosting your mood and helping your body to produce as much Vitamin D as it can.
*on a side note – when your home is a little colder it can be tempting to keep the curtains closed to ‘keep the heat in’ but in reality, opening the curtains and letting natural sunlight enter the room can actually help to keep the room warm.
- Let’s get moving!
Exercise produces endorphins which make us feel happy. Fact. On cold days one of the last things I want to do is to go and jump in a cold pool at the gym but I have never once felt sad after swimming (and honestly, is the pool that cold or am I just making excuses?) When we get moving, our muscles produce heat and our brains produce endorphins so it’s a win-win. Plus, a little gentle exercise also encourages socialising be it walking your dog in the park or talking to someone in the gym. Whatever you choose to do, exercise is more important than ever this time of year – especially with Christmas just around the corner. I know all my colleagues at Rotunda are about to fill the office with chocolates and my Mum is already planning on feeding half of Liverpool with the delicious (and HUGE) Christmas lunch she always fattens me up with!
- Routine! Routine! Routine!
One of my main struggles in life is that battle I face every morning with my alarm clock. It goes off every morning at 5.55am and then at 6am when I have to get up and I hate that thing! There isn’t a single noise that I can choose that doesn’t make me want to launch my phone across the room every morning. However, ensuring that I go to bed at around the same time every night and wake up every morning at the same time – yes 6am even on the weekends – helps me stick to my routine which informs my circadian rhythm. My internal body clock knows that I get up at 6am every morning and because I have stuck to a pattern I usually wake up a few moments before my alarm so I have a great feeling of accomplishment when I can turn it off and not have to listen to it chirping at me! Take that alarm!
In addition to sticking to this routine you can also purchase something called a ‘light box’. This fantastic little invention mimics daylight and can be controlled to simulate sunrise and sunset times which you can choose. These can be particularly useful for people who find it difficult to wake up on cold, dark mornings and can be purchased on Amazon for around £30 – you could speak to your GP to recommend one which may be right for you.
- Talk it out!
Whether you are suffering from SAD, depression, anxiety or any other form of mental health difficulty one of the most important things you can do to help is to talk to someone about it. Even something as simple as going out for a coffee with a friend can help to boost your mood and distract yourself from any negative thoughts you may be experiencing. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer with some form of mental health difficulty and when reaching out to friends, family or even co-workers you may find that you aren’t alone in your feelings. Many people struggle from time to time and reaching out to people can be one of the most valuable things you can do. Talking helps.
At Rotunda we offer a free counselling service for adults where people can see a person centred counsellor for ten free sessions where they can talk about their issues and gain some support. If you would like to be referred into this service, please call – 0151-207-2176 and leave your name and contact phone number and someone will be in touch with you to speak about how we can help you to feel a little happier.
By Heather Caird
Rotunda's Mental Health Coordinator
13 November 2019