5 days, 12 hours ago

Coping with seasonal defective order (SAD) this winter.

It’s October, which means summer is well and truly over and it’s time for crunchy leaves, Halloween, seasonal lattes and Christmas markets. I’m sure I speak for pretty much everyone when I say I love Autumn - I love everything about it, from the colours and smells to that feeling of getting cosy at home while it's cold outside. It's time for hot chocolate and shoddy attempts at gingerbread men, not to mention the build-up to the festive season with Christmas markets, ice skating and carol singing. You get the gist – I love it. We all do.

But, the only problem is, my mental health doesn’t.

Autumn is the step between summer and winter, and along with all the magical, wonderful things it brings, autumn also comes with dark, dismal skies, long dark evenings, miserable weather and just a general lack of actual daylight. Now, I don't know about you, but those things really ruin my mojo.

Although I deal with depression all year round, I certainly feel worse during the autumn and winter months, and the more mental health is discussed in society, the more apparent it's become that feeling like this is incredibly common. SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) is a form of depression which people experience during the winter months due to the change in season, weather and light levels. This isn’t something that is just limited to people who have depression or anxiety all year round - it can, and does, affect anyone.

Over the past few years I have tried to ignore the feelings of melancholy and tried to just get on with things, but eventually, I’d end up feeling completely defeated and pretty much housebound.

I have spent some time researching SAD and trying ways which might lighten my mood during the next few months. There are loads of self-help methods to try which are simple and include sitting by windows to maximise the amount of daylight you get, and taking walks with a friend, family member, or even someone from Uni like a wellbeing councillor.

The good thing about these self-help methods is that they can be done without feeling too taxing or taking you away from your friends. You can kill two birds with one stone by sitting next to a window while you do some reading for a seminar, or perhaps go to an exercise or sports class like yoga or circuits at Uni with your housemates. If you don’t fancy that, just taking a walk into town and grabbing a coffee with friends can help.

For some people, self-help methods are enough to lift low moods. However, others may need a little extra push. SAD lamps (which basically replicate sunlight) are an amazing option for dealing with the winter blues. If you’re one of those people who, like me, need something a little extra, it’s definitely worth a trip to your GP to discuss the options available to you. My GP was able to offer me loads of information about light therapy and other ways of combatting my SAD.

Autumn is charming and magical, but for many, it comes with a dark side. However, as this piece shows, there are ways to maintain your mental health while also enjoying everything the coming months bring.

If you want more info, I found these websites helpful:

http://www.sad.org.uk

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/#.WdknakyZORs

Have you had any experiences with SAD? Let me know in the comments.

#tyro #mentalhealth #saddisorder #norm

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