Updated: Oct 1
For many people, winter brings a number of unwelcome thoughts and feelings and this year may be harder than ever. Symptoms such as lethargy, depression, overeating, irritability, sleep disorders and generally feeling down and anti-social can all be signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We feel our mood slump as the days get shorter and darker, the cold sets in and all the seasonal bugs start attacking our immune system. However, we don’t have to give in to those feelings of depression and despondency. Here are my top tips for staying healthy and happy until the welcome warmth of spring returns.
1. Keep warm
Try to keep your house or work-place heated to a temperature of around 18C to 21C (64F to 70F). Make sure that your home is draught-proof to save on wasted energy. Eat hot food, drink warm drinks, wear lots of light layers and wrap up well when you go out.
2. Get Outside
Getting out in the fresh air and daylight can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and decrease stress levels. So, wrap up warm and spend as much time as possible outside having fun with the children, walking the dog, running, even window-shopping in town. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get out there! If you are self-isolating or working from home and find that you're spending more time than usual indoors, try to make your home or work-place as naturally light as possible. Cut back trees and open blinds and curtains to let the light in and sit by the window if you can. If you are redecorating, choose light colours that reflect the natural daylight.
3. Keep Active
A great way to keep warm and raise endorphin levels is to exercise. A good walk outside during daylight hours or exercising under bright lights are both great ways to stave off the winter blues.
4. Listen to Some Upbeat Music
Studies have shown that listening to your favourite “happy” music can really lift your mood. So, put on your favourite playlist and sing and dance those winter blues away.
5. Eat Healthily
Balance those carb cravings with lots of healthy fruit and vegetables this winter. Make a yummy, warming winter soup like this Carrot and Coriander. A healthy diet will boost your immune system, stop you putting on weight, give you more energy and elevate your mood. Of course, chocolate is also known to increase your mood and relieve anxiety, just remember that the higher the cocoa content, the better it is for you and, as with anything, eat in moderation! Remember, if you are struggling to keep to a healthy diet or would like help with managing your weight, please contact me to discuss how hypnotherapy can help you.
6. Invest in a Dawn Simulator or SAD Light
If the dark mornings are bringing you down and you are struggling to get out of bed, it may be worth investing in a dawn simulator. This clever little invention comes in the form of a light connected to a digital alarm clock that slowly lights up as your chosen wake-up time approaches.
Light therapy via a SAD light may also be a good idea. This is a special light box that mimics sunlight and can help to alleviate the symptoms of SAD. It needs to be powerful enough to have the desired effect and be warned, there are many inferior products posing as SAD lights. It is important that if you are investing in a lightbox that you always look at the manufacturer's website and research thoroughly before making a purchase to ensure the product is a genuine medical treatment device.
7. Plan Your Next Holiday
If you are longing for those sunny days on the beach, now might be a good time to get online and decide on your next holiday destination. Having something to look forward to can really boost your mood and it will remind you that winter won’t last forever.
8. Help Others
Check on elderly neighbours and relatives or volunteer to work in a soup kitchen. Helping others is a great way to lift depression. If you are in the UK, take a look at the NCVO website for more information on voluntary jobs.
9. Take Up a New Hobby
Find something that interests you and will give you something to look forward to everyday. Learn a new language, take up painting, try a new sport…it doesn’t matter what it is as long as you enjoy it. There are a few websites out there that offer free online courses in a number of different subjects. Take a look at Future Learn or Alison for some ideas.
Hypnotherapy can be very helpful in alleviating symptoms of SAD. It can help you to relax, change your thought patterns and feel more hopeful and positive. It can also help with some of the other effects such as over-eating and lack of motivation.
I offer a fully refundable initial consultation and assessment session, so please get in touch and we can have a chat to discover how hypnotherapy could help you. Book today at https://calendly.com/lauraculley/initialconsultation
This blog is no substitute for professional help and should not be used for self-diagnosis. If your SAD symptoms are having a very negative effect on your life, then please contact your GP as soon as possible. Your GP may recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or anti-depressant medication.