If you haven’t already got it in your diary, the clocks go back this weekend. Whilst a lot of us will be celebrating the extra hour in bed (hurray!), for some it signals the beginning of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
SAD has much the same symptoms as general depression – feeling down and unmotivated, not interesting in doing things, disturbed sleep and negative thinking. It’s estimated that around 3 out of 100 people in the UK have significant depression that occurs during winter (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/), but many people will often comment on feeling tired, not wanting to do much, and weight gain.
Currently, we don’t have an exact reason as to why some people find themselves depressed during winter, but it’s thought that the lack of daylight plays a significant part. SAD can be a few mild symptoms, or it can have a huge impact on your life. Whichever it is for you, here are our top 5 tips to help you cope:
- Get as much daylight as possible, be that taking a brisk walk during your lunchbreak, or making a point to get outside on your days off. It’s not just the shorter days that affect us being outdoors – the weather and lack of activities to do such as gardening all decrease our sunlight exposure.
- Exercise plays a vital part in keeping our energy levels up at any time of the year. If you can’t stand being out in the cold, why not try taking a class in a warm, bright community centre? This can also help us socialise, rather than give in to our hibernation instincts.
- It’s natural to crave comforting, warming foods in winter, but this often comes with an increase in sugar. If you’re craving comfort, try getting it from soups, stews etc, rather than cakes and biscuits.
- We often want to sleep more when it’s dark, but sticking to a routine with sleep as much as possible keeps our energy levels stable. Most people need between 6 to 8 hours sleep at night, but you probably have a good idea of what is most useful to you. Try waking up and going to bed at the same time each day – this regulates our sleep patterns. Some people use light boxes, or dawn alarm clocks in the mornings to help them feel awake. This might be worth trying if you hate getting up in the dark.
- If we’re feeling low and tired, we’re less likely to do the things we want to do, or keep up with our day-to-day activities. This in turn can make us feel worse, and before we know it we’ve entered a vicious cycle of depression. If you have read the above tips and feel like you can’t do that, or it doesn’t help, it might be worth seeking support. Here at Telford Wellbeing Service we offer CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, that focuses on breaking out of the above cycle. If you are registered with a Telford and Wrekin GP, you can access this by calling 01952 457415, and booking yourself a telephone assessment. You can also sign up to our free Computerised CBT programme SilverCloud by following this link - http://telfordwellbeingservice.sssft.nhs.uk/silvercloud
Do you have any tips that help you get through the winter? If so, tweet us @Telford_IAPT, or leave a comment on our Facebook page.