5 Ways to Take Charge of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
So, the clocks went back last weekend which means darker shorter days ahead “Boooooo!” I am definitely a sunshine girl at heart which is one of the reasons why I travel so much I think. I always find that my mood changes this time of year and I know for sure its down to the early sunsets and becoming pitch black by 4pm (Hi December around the corner!)
It can be a bit depressing, especially when working from home like myself. As soon as it begins to get dark, my body instructs me to down tools, days over when in actual fact it’s only 3:30pm!
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I definitely have a mild case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD is a form of seasonal depression that is brought on by the change in the weather and season. Most people experience SAD in winter time.
It happens to many of us this time of year, particularly in winter. After trialling some of my own personal methods, I’ve set out 5 effective ways to combat SAD:
1. Go Natural
Where possible use natural daylight as opposed to artificial light. Also get out as much as you can and take advantage of as much sunlight there is. A little stroll outside at noon or soon after is the best time as that’s when the sunshine is at it’s strongest. Work by a window whenever you can to make the most of the daylight and absorb as much of that vitamin D from the sunshine as you can! My workspace is close to two large windows on either side of my desk which is great, but when the sun goes down so does my motivation, which leads me to tip number 2….
2. Light Therapy
As mentioned above, as soon as it gets dark my mindset and attitude to work changes rapidly. I lose motivation and want to switch off.
I have changed all of the light bulbs in my workspace from regular bulbs (with a yellow hue) to daylight bulbs (with a cool hue) and WOW what a difference!! They are significantly brighter than standard bulbs and emit a cool bright light. I switch them on as soon as it starts to look a bit dark outside and I literally almost immediately feel awakened and not so fatigued as I have done without them.
Cool White Energy Bulbs (also energy saving). Reasonably priced and come in packs of four.
You can also buy light therapy boxes that mimic sunshine. Directions suggest sitting in front of a light box for about 60 minutes each day whilst at work or watching TV to help suppress your body’s natural release of melatonin. Lumie Arabica Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD Lamp
3. Dawn Simulators ~ Bodyclock Alarm Clock
Bodyclock alarm clocks are amazing in winter time. They don’t jolt you awake with an awful noise like many conventional alarm clocks. Instead, they wake you up gradually with light that mimics a real sunrise.
The light from these dawn simulators / alarm clocks will gently bring you out of your sleep whilst increasing the levels of cortisol in your body which help you to wake up refreshed and give you a kick start to the day. Anyone like myself who is not a morning person will feel far more energetic and in a better mood first thing in the morning using one of these.
They also claim to re-set your body clock to run in time with your day, helping you feel more awake during the day and more ready for sleep at night.
Here is a Lumie BodyclockWake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise and Sunset Features which has fantastic reviews and wont break the bank!
4. Get Moving
As we all know, exercise can alleviate and battle many things and it doesn’t stop at SAD. I’m not necessarily talking about an intense workout sweating in the gym for an hour (not my bag!) but some light exercise outdoors is best for seasonal affective disorder and will undoubtedly give you an instant pick me up.
When I feel a little down, I jump in the car and go and run some errands. I incorporate plenty of walking by parking a fair distance away from shop doors. If I lived in a place where I could walk everywhere I would ditch the car and walk from A to B.
If you cant go out for a walk or exercise outdoors because its too cold or rainy, choose a treadmill or exercise machine nearest the window at the gym. Incorporating some exercise into your routine will also keep the weight gain at bay that tends to go hand in hand SAD. Two birds, one stone! 🙂
5. Get a Routine Down and Don’t Take Your Phone to Bed!
Having a regular routine/schedule will improve your sleep which in itself helps to alleviate SAD. People who suffer from seasonal affective disorder tend to have issues sleeping at night and getting up in the morning. I for one suffered with this for the longest time. I would work throughout the day and at bedtime would be on my phone reading, sending emails, checking facebook etc for hours before actually going to sleep. My mind would just be on overdrive and I felt it difficult to drift off. Next morning I would feel exhausted and would just switch off my alarm and turn over!
Now I have implemented a bedtime into my routine (11:30pm) which is a time I find I get drowsy. When I get into bed, my phone goes down and I put it on silent. It was surprisingly difficult to adopt this rule into my routine but I was determined! After just a few days I noticed I would fall aleep quicker and wake up earlier naturally. I always feel good when I wake up naturally and start the day nice and early as I get so much more done.
Do you suffer from SAD? What do you find helps you to feel better? Have you tried any of the tips above?