Seasonal Affective Disorder
According to the UK NHS;
(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.
A few people with SAD may have symptoms during the summer and feel better 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
- 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. More on S.A.D here
Since moving to the UK in 2010, SAD has been a constant in my life. At first, I thought it was just homesickness because the worst of it sort of disappeared once the weather warmed up a bit. But after speaking to a number of people, and studying my own moods very intently, I realised that I was suffering from SAD. Since then , I have come up with some coping mechanisms to help me weather the storm of SAD or the general low-moods that come about during hormonal changes and/or big life changes.
- Make your home feel like summer never left – During Autumn/Winter season, we tend to spend more time indoors because the British weather is usually wet, grey and depressing most of the time. Add the social constraints of Covid19 to that mix and you can guarantee even more hours spent indoors this year. I have found that incorporating summery vibes into my personal space makes me feel a lot better about being indoors when 3.00 PM looks like 7.00 PM. So, by October, I changed my curtains to white ones that allow natural light to stream in during the day and added light and bright furnishings to my interior decor. I keep my space smelling nice with floral diffusers and candles, eat lots of fruits and have flowers/greenery everywhere. These small changes really lift my mood everyday and I recommend it. Highly.
- Keep Moving – When the days get shorter and colder, the instinct is to sit on the sofa cuddled up with a nice cuppa watching a tv show. Now this is a nice way to unwind, but I will advice to avoid doing this during the day, especially if you’re a SAHM with children that are of school-age. Think about taking a quiet walk to a park or just around the neighbourhood. If the weather is really rubbish, then look for some fun workout videos on YouTube to keep you muscles moving and your blood flowing. If you can, ask friends and/or family members to join you. Spending hours binge-watching series might feel cosy and comforting in the moment, but if you suffer from SAD, the likelihood is that you get up from that spot on your couch feeling worse than you did before you sat down. Activity and Sport release feel-good hormones that then encourage you to be more productive and make better choices for the rest of the day.
- Try not to sleep in regularly – I used to love to sleep in on a weekend because I felt like I’d earned it after a busy work-week. But the truth is, whenever I sleep till about 9.00am, I find that I am less motivated to do anything useful with my time afterwards. I just want to chill and hide from everything and everyone. And by the time darkness falls, I always regret it. So, in order to save myself form regret and self-reproach, I make sure that I am out of my bed and downstairs by 7.00 AM; at the very latest. Of course I still have occasional lie-ins when my body demands it….
- Plan your day ahead and hold yourself accountable – Every night, I try to say out loud to myself, my husband and my kids; the things that I plan to do the next day. And, they keep me check whenever they see me straying. Try and find yourself an accountability partner or, set reminders on your phone if you can’t commit to people yet
- Above all else, be kind to yourself – This short list above won’t completely free you from the feelings of sadness or ‘low-moods’ that come with a change in the seasons. So remember to be kind to yourself whenever your body asks for a rest or you find yourself in a place you don’t want to be emotionally. Just recommit to doing your best the next day and begin again.