How To Tackle Seasonal Affective Disorder
It’s October – yay! One of my favourite months of the year, but it also means as the nights draw in, my seasonal affective disorder (SAD) creeps in. My love for the festive season usually pulls me through till December, but January and February are the absolute worst.
My GP suggested I may have seasonal affective disorder about 11 years ago, when for the third year in a row I arrived around the third week of January struggling with depression. Generally, once Spring arrives my mood improves. Last winter was particularly bad, as it was so grey with very little sunlight. So rather than waiting for the clocks to go back, I quickly learnt that to try and keep a lid on it, I needed to make sure I took steps to combat it it early, otherwise I constantly felt like I was swimming against the tide.
I will go right ahead and say though, although there are lots of things you can do in order to try and alleviate the symptoms, if you are struggling just go to your GP and get medicated. There is absolutely no shame in it and believe me, you don’t want to get to the stage where the black cloud has engulfed you so badly you cant see sky.
The first thing I do is from the beginning of October, I get my light box out. There are various different size ones you can get, I have a small desk one which I put on for 30 minutes every morning just whilst I am working or reading, as you don’t want to be directly looking into the light, but you want it on your face. It’s not recommended you use it at night as it can affect your natural circadian rhythms further. I know people who also use a sunrise alarm clock, which can slowly increase the light in your room before you wake, so you don’t wake in darkness and that light therapy is supposed to be really helpful too.
Where ever possible, I try and get out for a decent walk in the daylight. SAD can make you feel sluggish and tired and want to eat all the carbs, but fresh air in the daylight instantly improves my mood. My favourite type of weather is when it’s cold enough for a hat and scarf but bright enough that you need sunglasses, so I make the most of it whenever I can.
Research has shown that people who suffer from SAD have a lower immune system, I am a one woman germ warfare machine, I have already been ill twice since The Biggest went back to school with the myriad of illnesses that fester there. I take a multi-vitamin and Echinacea daily to try and help keep sickness to a minimum, but trying to get lots of sleep also
It’s part of the disorder that your body will crave carbs and you will generally eat crap, but trying to monitor what you put in definitely helps. The slow cooker is my best friend during the winter months, as having less energy means I can’t be bothered to cook as well, so just bunging everything in a slow cooker and knowing when it comes to the end of the day you can have something relatively wholesome and filling waiting for you is a winner. I like curries and stews and generally things I can serve with rice and pasta, as that’s also easy to prep. I also eat lots of soups and also plenty of fruit and smoothies.
Do any of you suffer with the S.A.D or the winter blues? Let me know what helps you in the comments. 🙂