Since the clocks went back this weekend I thought this post would be apt, considering that a change in times and seasons can bring on the dreaded S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that’s incredibly common but not often spoken about. It’s something I’ve experienced myself the past couple of years and can put a huge dampener on what’s supposed to be a pretty exciting time of the year.
The winter blues can hit you when you least expect them, which happened to me the last two years. You’re going along, minding your own business, enjoying Autumn, then BAM! Suddenly you find yourself feeling lethargic, lonely and all out-of-sorts for no apparent reason. The trigger for me seems to be the change in daylight savings. That one pesky little hour that the clocks go back by in October seems to completely send my body and mind out of whack! The sudden arrival of dark mornings and dark evenings makes me feel pretty darn glum, and I find myself wanting to hibernate until the warmer weather reappears.
Going out can feel like a mammoth task, my stress levels seem to increase tenfold and I find myself feeling lonely and down when I’ve no reason to. Not a great combination to say the least! I thought I’d share some of my experiences with the winter blues as I know a lot of us seem to be going through it. This isn’t the usual kind of topic you’d see on Who What Claire, and by no means am I in a position to dish out medical advice, but I figured this could be helpful! I wanted to share some ways that helped me combat it as well as a few tips that I’ll be trying out this time round to try and keep S.A.D at bay!
Zebra Mug – Sara Miller London (gifted)
Probably one of the most simple yet effective things you can do to perk yourself up is to head outside. Granted, the weather might not always permit, but getting outdoors can be such a mood booster. Whether it’s to walk the dog round the block, go for a run, stroll through the park or head further afield, it can really help to blow out the cobwebs and refresh your mind. We have some great places nearby for walking and exploring, and they’re the perfect place to visit on a chilly, crisp day!
This is something I used to be really bad at! I went through a phase a few years back of having a series of really quiet weekends spent in the house, and it drove me up the wall! I started to get a case of cabin fever after being stuck indoors on the sofa, wasting the days away. Then when Monday came back round I’d feel flat and disappointed that I’d not done anything with my days. Sure, a couple of days lazing in front of the TV won’t hurt, but too many and I start to crave company and fresh air! I like to make sure I have some fun things planned in for a couple of my weekends each month. Not only to ensure I’m actually doing something with my free time, but to have something to look forward to, too!
One of the best things I have ever bought has to be my Lumie Lamp! These clever little lights are designed for S.A.D sufferers, and are brilliant if like me you struggle to wake up on dark mornings. They mimic sunrise and are designed to gradually wake you up in a natural way. You’re greeted with what looks and feels like sunlight when you open your eyes, even though it’s pitch black outdoors! They’re brilliant if you have an early get-up and you don’t want the jarring alarm-clock-in-the-dark situation, and help to lift your mood in the mornings. Mine also has a setting where you can use it at night too, and gradually dims over a 30 minute period. This is perfect for those nights when you’re struggling to relax. I got this Lumie Lamp from Amazon a couple of years back and paid around £60 for it. There seem to be lots of newer models available here now though, but I’d fully recommend investing in one if getting out of bed in the mornings is a struggle.
This is probably a bit of an obvious one, but exercise is great for boosting your energy and your mood! I haven’t worked out for a while now, so I definitely need to practise what I preach, but when I do, I always feel so much better for it afterwards. I love the sense of accomplishment you feel after completing a work out, and I always find it clears my head and sets me up for the day ahead.
It’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so you have to just roll with it! If you’ve suffered with S.A.D in the past, it can feel natural to resent this time of year. I for one have had a little feeling of dread in the back of my mind for the last few weeks, but let me tell you, that is not helping the situation! There are so many things about Autumn and Winter that are exciting, so I’m trying to embrace them full-heartedly and try and enjoy them as much as possible. Give me hot chocolates by the fire, cups of tea in front of festive films, chunky knitwear, cosy slippers and all the candles!! Welcoming the season with open arms and embracing everything you love about it will definitely make it more enjoyable.
Sheepskin Slippers – Celtic & Co (gifted)
This may seem a tad excessive, but S.A.D can be triggered by the lack of sunlight, so what better way to combat it than a trip to sunnier climes?! If you know you struggle this time of year, then maybe consider planning some of your holidays in Autumn or Winter, and heading to somewhere a little warmer. A dose of vitamin D will do wonders for your mood, and help to break up the season with some sunshine! I’m definitely going to be keeping this in mind in the new year when we start thinking about trips away in 2020!
Similarly to point 6, planning exciting things in advance will give you something to focus on and get you through the months when you’re struggling with S.A.D. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a holiday, but just something you know you’ll be excited about! It could be a day out with the girls to celebrate something special, a shopping trip or a spa day – something that will keep you going that you can look forward to when you’re feeling down. I’ve been doing this a lot more lately as I’ve found I’m best when I have lots happening. Having plans gives me a feeling of purpose and helps me to focus on what’s ahead.
Finally, and probably the most difficult, is to open up and tell someone how you are feeling. Not everyone ‘gets’ it, but someone will, and when you tell the right person what you’re going through, that alone can make you feel so much better! Whether it’s your partner, a parent, a friend or even a doctor, speaking up can feel like a weight has been lifted. I made the mistake of keeping it to myself a couple of years back, and it felt incredibly lonely and confusing as I had no idea what was going on with me. I’ve since learned to talk to others about it, and it’s helped me massively. You’ll also be surprised to find out how many others are feeling the exact same. And of course if things are really bad, speak to your GP and seek some professional advice for managing your symptoms.
As I said, by no means am I a professional here, but speaking from personal experience, I’ve found many of these to really help me. I’d love to hear if you have any other tips for coping with S.A.D this time of year. Slide in to my DMs with your thoughts and advice on this topic as I’m sure there are so many other ways to ease the dreaded winter blues!