Guest written by the best human in the world ”Kat” based on her extensive history battling SAD. I hope it helps anyone else dealing with SAD this year – Luci
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very common problem affecting one in three adults in the UK. It’s easy to struggle more at this time of year; it’s cold, grey and rainy. All the fun of Christmas is gone so money is tight (and so are our jeans!)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.
I struggle with this most years, but there are a few tips that I think might be able to help us beat SAD for free as none of these tips involve spending £100+ on a lamp (!)
How to Beat SAD for Free
1. Get Your Vitamins
You will have heard this a million times and it is general advice for all year round, I know. However, it is common to turn to takeaways and ready meals this time of year as you need something quick and warm but that might mean that you are missing out vitamins from fruit and veg that you need.
Try and eat as much colourful foods as you can (stews, cottage pies, soups are all winter-friendly ways to do this) but also a chewy multi-vitamin in the morning can help as well. Your immune system will be more at risk this year, so get your vitamins and avoid those colds!
2. Start a New Food Regime
I’m not saying go on a diet, but while it’s cold outside and you are spending more time in the house, why not make the most of that time to experiment in the kitchen?
This could be a great way to try healthy meals but also give recipes a go that you wouldn’t normally have time for. It’s gives you an excuse to try something new without having to leave the house.
3. Get Outside (As Much As You Can)
It really is beneficial to get as much sunlight as possible (which isn’t always easy if you work in an office 9 – 5 like me). However, a couple of things could help you:
Going for a walk in the morning. With or without a dog, just 10mins a day will help.
In the office, keep all the blinds up/curtains open to let in as much sunlight as possible.
Pop outside for some fresh air on your breaks rather than staying in the break room.
4. Wake Up Easy
A lot of people rely on sunlight alarm clocks, these are alarm clocks with a light that wakes you up gradually by mimicking natural sunrise – these usually have nice sounds like birds built in as well.
As much as these are great, they can be expensive but there are a few apps available that do a similar job for free.
5. Enjoy Your Bed Time
It’s easy to wake up happy if you’ve had a great sleep – so make a night of it! Enjoy your bedtime and make a routine. Take off make up, put on creams, light a candle, listen to ASMR or soothing sounds.
Try and make your room a nice temperature and remember that colder is sometimes better.
6. Be Social Indoors
No-one wants to go out this time of year, and there’s no point getting dressed up it’s too cold and the wind will just ruin your hair anyway.
However, isolating yourself and not being social will not help. So, make indoor plans. Invite friends round, or go theirs (but go in pyjamas). Plan movie nights or make weekly viewing parties for a new TV show that’s out.
7. Indoor exercise
We all know exercise is amazing for us – it increases brain activity, it releases endorphins and helps you feel more positive. Is it that easy to do? No.
My gym is a 5 min walk away but the thought of going out in the cold just fills me with dread. Thank goodness for YouTube because there are so many exercise routines on there of all sorts; Pilates, Zumba, dance, yoga, weights and many more. If you don’t have weights you can get your creativity going as well by creating weights from things knocking about the house, lift some cans or do squats with a hat stand).
Also include some stretching and something calming to finish. You don’t even need a mat, get out a blanket or a sleeping bag and slap it on the floor.
8. Dress like it’s summer
This one is silly however; it’s a big mood changer. Its winter and you automatically live in black clothes, jumpers and get pale.
Try making some little changes to your outside to make you feel better inside. Dig out some brightly coloured jumpers, try some gradual tan and use that bright eyeshadow in the palette (that you would never normally use!).
Blues are calming and yellows can brighten your mood, but whatever colour you like – surround yourself with it. Add some colour to your desk at work or give your computer a colourful background. Mine is pink, I like it and in the morning it makes me smile.
Now I know it’s easy for someone else to tell you to exercise and eat healthy and be happy – like yeah everyone would do that if it was that easy. But don’t put pressure on yourself, start slowly and maybe try one new thing a day that makes you happy or calm.