Tips for Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

About The Author:

Sabrina is a Canadian blogger and content creator based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She likes coffee shops, warm woolly jumpers, weekend getaways and cuddles with her kitten. She expresses this slow cosy lifestyle that she loves across her website, YouTube and Instagram.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, aptly known as SAD, is a condition that arises in the winter season, when you don’t get enough daylight. SAD is often also known as “winter depression” because its signs and symptoms mimic those of general depression. Someone with SAD might present with a persistent low mood, irritability, low energy, difficulty getting up in the morning and more. You can read more about the specifics of SAD on the NHS website.

snow field and green pine trees during daytime
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What you need to know

If you present with these symptoms in winter specifically, you may be affected by the shorter days  of sunlight in winter. Good news! There are some simple changes you can make in your day to day life to ease the symptoms. If you have these symptoms year round or if you’re really struggling with them, you should speak with a GP to get a diagnosis. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to make some of these changes right away to see if they help you.

Try a sunrise alarm clock

As the days are getting shorter, one of the first noticeable symptoms of SAD is difficulty rising in the morning. If you notice this, try a sunrise alarm like the Lumie Sunrise Alarm. This product allows you to set your usual alarm time, and as it nears that time the lamp will mimic a sunrise. This comes highly recommended from my sister, who lived in the Yukon and had only a few hours of daylight in the winter! If you have a Google Nest or Home system, you can alternately get a smart light bulb and use an app to set your sunrise alarm – there are tons of options out there nowadays, because so many people have found it a useful way to get up in the winter (or even if you just work odd hours!).

silhouette of gray building during golden hour
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Get out after dark

Most depressions are treated with “exercise” — often, this alone is not enough. When I suffered from SAD in Canada, I noticed that it wasn’t just the dark that I struggled with – but the omnipresent cold. I spend exponentially less time outside in the winter compared to the other seasons – I wouldn’t leave the house after getting in from work/school/plans in the winter, while in the summer I might enjoy an evening walk for ice cream or make evening plans. As a result, I wouldn’t get as much exercise. It’s a tough habit to break, but if you can find ways to treat yourself and reward yourself to go out on those cold dark evenings, it helps a ton! Especially when you get more exercise – and get more time to spend with loved ones that don’t live with you.

Set yourself some winter goals

Trying new hobbies is always a fun thing to look forward to, but it’s especially helpful when you’re trying to force yourself to get out of the house in the winter. Try to find a hobby that has a goal attached to it – maybe you want to start running to finish your first half marathon, maybe you want to start hill-walking to prepare for a mountain summit, maybe you want to start a pottery class so you can make your own mug! You might notice I’ve gone with a lot of outdoor options – tough if you don’t have an outdoorsy bone in your body, but with lockdown restrictions a lot of my favourite indoor hobbies have closed. I’ll tell you one thing, lockdown restrictions permitting, I’ll be signing up for another beginner ballet class this winter! It’s great for my posture and there’s nothing more uplifting than prancing like a ballerina for one hour a week.

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Talk to someone

I completely understand that counselling isn’t accessible for everyone – if you’re struggling and you can go, I wholeheartedly recommend that you do. If you can’t, I recommend talking to friends and family about how you’re struggling. Hopefully we all have someone in our lives that can empathise. Surprisingly, we’re not usually alone with SAD. A study in the Independent suggests that 1 in 3 people suffer from SAD. We’re in it together! Having someone with you to meet on evenings out or to start that hobby with can be such a good motivator. Plus, it’s always comforting to talk to someone who truly understands how you’re feeling. 

If you feel like you’ve tried everything you can and you’re still struggling, please visit your GP. SAD may be common, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be serious. When it comes to mental health – trust yourself first! If it feels serious, it is serious and it should be dealt with the support of mental health professionals.

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If you liked Sabrina’s guest post and feel you’d like more of her content then make sure you check her out on her Blog, YouTube and other socials. Thank you again to Sabrina for this amazing and informative post all about Seasonal Affective Disorder. This time of year isn’t great for everyone, get talking!

Han xx

2 Comments

  1. WELL ITS THE FIRST TIME I KNEW THE MEANING OF SAD

  2. I know a couple of people who suffer with SAD at this time of year and I can’t imagine how hard it must be for them. This is such great advice for dealing with SAD at this time of year x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

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