First Psychology – Tackling Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
As the nights draw in and the temperatures begin to fall, SAD can begin to affect many of us. Mayo Clinic defines SAD as “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the autumn and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.”
Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:
• Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
• Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
• Having low energy
• Having problems with sleeping
• Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
• Feeling sluggish or agitated
• Having difficulty concentrating
• Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
Catching the early signs and symptoms of SAD within yourself can be very helpful in tackling and dealing with the effects.
How to deal with SAD – Some tips and considerations
• Catch some daylight: Although daylight hours in Scotland diminish quickly, there are still opportunities to get outside and soak up some sunlight. Making time to step outside perhaps in the morning or during a coffee/lunch break can have a great impact on your overall mood.
• Stay active: Past studies have suggested exercise can be effective in managing SAD and non-seasonal depression. Even gentle exercise such as going for a walk can be helpful in lifting mood and helping with sleep, and can easily be combined with catching some daylight! The NHS also provide helpful guidance on getting active with a disability or health condition.
• Communicate: It’s important to remember the changing seasons are likely affecting everyone else around you in some way too; nobody is alone in this annual shift. Take time to speak with friends, family, colleagues and peers to support each other; share tips and ideas for staying on top of your wellbeing during the winter months.
• Appreciate the little things: Although sometimes it may feel like it, it’s worth remembering winter is not some dark, ominous tunnel we are simply trying to rush through. For many it’s a time for rest, relaxation, charity and cheer. Make a point to consider and focus on positives and avoid ruminating on any perceived negatives of the season.
• Listen to yourself: Being understanding of your own thoughts and feelings can help in experiencing negative emotions. Understanding why we are feeling a certain way can often help in coping and being proactive in improving our mood. Catch yourself feeling down, appreciate why you feel this way, and take active steps such as the points above to bring yourself back up.
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