Seasonal affective depression (SAD) is a very common strain of depression. It occurs in the winter months and people can be effected every year continuously with this. You have probably heard the term ‘winter blues’ – well, this is exactly that. On the whole people are happier when the sun is shining, this is because the sun causes us to release more serotonins which contribute somewhat to our happiness. Therefore, in the winter the sun shines a lot less and we will evidently feel the depressive effects of less sunlight and less sunshine.
There are plenty of positive and lovely things about winter which I am sure you can all guess; Christmas, New Year, snow, ect. I do not particularly enjoy these events. I have never liked snow or seen the appeal of it. And I would prefer a world without Christmas (sorry to be a scrouge) simply because of the big build up leading to one pretty lazy day, it is all just a bit boring and pointless. I would probably enjoy it more if it wasn’t built up to be so amazing. For those like me who will struggle over the winter here are some ways in which you can try to work towards making yourself feel a little better;
If you stay in all winter (which I know is very very tempting) you will actually begin to feel worse. Human interaction is key when you are suffering with a mental health problem, even if meeting your friends or going out into the cold seems awful and you would rather stay in just go out and do it, you will honestly feel loads better.I have tried it myself. Alternatively, you could invite some people over to your house for hot chocolates and movies, this way you are staying in and still seeing your friends.
Plan something for every day
Even if you plan something small, like painting your nails or going on a walk, it will give you a small sense of satisfaction to know you have done something with your day. If you have a free day and you stay indoors you could end up feeling a lot worse at the end of the day because you will feel sluggish and as if you have done nothing. Doing nothing is fine but you need to be aware of your thoughts when you are doing nothing and chilling out, put a movie on.
Immerse yourself in Christmas
Love it or hate it, no matter who you are, Christmas will be all around you. I would suggest, even if you don’t celebrate it yourself, trying to get involved and soon enough you will feel the Christmas cheer. Even if you just walk past a shop window twinkling with lights, take a moment to look and feel the tingly sense that things in life are good and pretty and that people are normally nicer around this time of year.
Make the most of the (very few) sunny days
Although it is winter, the sun does still occasionally come out and we need the sun to boost our serotonins and happiness. So, if the sun is shining, wrap up warm and go out for a walk or do something outside despite the cold! The brisk air will make you feel more alive than if you were sat inside looking out. Save the indoor tasks for a cloudy day.
Enjoy the food and drink!
Christmas is always a great time of year for food and drink so go out and experience it all or stay in and cook yourself a warming, hearty meal. You will be preoccupied with the making or going out AND get to eat amazing tasting food!
Have a Christmas jig
By this I mean put the music channels/radio/C.D/Vinyl/whatever you listen to music on and have a sing along and dance. There will be loads and loads of Christmas music on so instead of avoiding it just sing along and dance – even if you hate the cheesy song! Dancing is fun, can be done alone or with others and counts as exercise which has an uplifting effect on your mood (whilst not actually feeling like exercise!)
See your friends and family
Christmas is traditionally seen as a time to see family but not all families are great. For example, every year we used to HAVE to go and see my horrible, racist, grumpy, nasty grandad, no one enjoyed it and we all moaned about going so then one year I just stopped making an effort with him as he was nasty to everyone (with VERY outdated views) and now I spend my Christmas with the family members who are actually nice. So don’t force yourself to go and see the people who put you down but spend it with those who care about you and you will feel so much better to be around people you love.
Deck your halls with light
This can be all year round and doesn’t apply just to Christmas. Buy some fairy lights or decorations and make your home look and feel pretty, you will feel so much better. Not only will you be living in a lovely, pretty environment but you have made it lovely yourself which will make you feel a sense of satisfaction and happiness.
I hope these tips will help you through the winter months but if you ever start to feel down remember that this is a beautiful time of the year and there are so many hidden gems to find in winter. If any symptoms persist and effect your day-to-day life, it is worth a visit your doctor, even if you think it is nothing. You can read more about SAD here: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Seasonal-affective-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx or read my own journey with my first trip to the doctor.
Thanks for reading and feel free to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk about anything. 🙂