SAD is ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ and is a condition that causes us to feel low on energy and even somewhat depressed during the winter months. This is caused by the relative lack of natural light during the season and especially in the mornings when sufferers may struggle to wake up. As light is one of the key factors that controls our internal body clock and the release of hormones like serotonin and cortisol, longer nights and shorter days can take their toll on our moods and our happiness.
Some people suffer greatly with SAD and find themselves struggling to get out of bed in the mornings. However, even those of us who don’t have clinically diagnosed SAD can still find ourselves feeling low in the mornings when it’s dark. It’s safe to say that all of us have seasonal affective disorder to some degree.
So what can you do to perk yourself back up?
Here are a few tips and changes that may help…
Get a Daylight Lamp
Daylight lamps are lamps that create light that has a similar wavelength to light from the sun. One such company is Lumie, which creates lamps that can also act as alarm clocks. These are certified medical devices and work by gradually getting lighter in the morning to mimic the rising of the sun. The idea is that you wake up to a bright room and that you are gently woken up out of a deep sleep – rather than being startled awake in a pitch black room by a blaring alarm.
The difference is quite noticeable and it can make a big difference. There are also a number of other companies that make similar products too, such as iBoutique and Davita. Make sure to compare a few models to find the one that best suits your requirements and budget.
Make More Light
In the winter you have less light to work with so you need to maximize the amount that gets into your house and has an effect. You can do this in a number of ways – by getting rid of net curtains for instance and by cutting your hedges a little lower. You should also consider moving your room to the brightest part of the house or even removing your curtains entirely so that you can be woken naturally by sunlight.
Another tip is to hang mirrors which will reflect light from the windows. Painting walls white and using a more minimalist décor can also help more light to get around so that you feel fresh and awake in the mornings. At work, if you’re given the option, try to sit as close to a window as possible.
Get More Sunlight!
It sounds obvious but it’s something that a lot of people don’t consider – and that’s simply to spend more time outside during the day.
Sure, it might not seem appealing when it’s wet and cold out, but even then you are still soaking in more light than you would do indoors. If you huddle up in the warmth you might feel snug in the short term but in the long term, your body clock will suffer. Force yourself to go out for walks and especially when the sun does peep out from behind the clouds!
Shift Your Body Clock
This won’t be an option for everyone but if you find yourself feeling groggy and depressed in the mornings because it’s so dark, try changing your body clock slightly and even discussing coming in an hour later at work. This way, it will be a little lighter when you get up and you’ll feel a bit fresher.
Conversely, if getting home late in the dark is making you stressed, then discuss coming into work a little earlier and try to make sure you’re finishing all your work on time.
Go on Holiday
If you really hate the winter, then why not make like a bird and fly South? Many of us plan our holidays in the summer when the weather is at its best but actually, going in the winter will ensure that you can enjoy warmer weather and a much lower price! Travelling during winter makes sense on a lot of fronts and also gives you something to look forward during those painfully cold months.
If you’re not going to be getting energy from the sun, then you need to make sure that you fortify every other part of your life, your health and your routine as much as possible. This means you should eat lots of vitamins and minerals, you should exercise and you should try to avoid stress as much as possible. This will help to reduce the amount of things you need to worry about when it’s cold and will ensure your body is firing on all cylinders in every other respect.
Surround Yourself With Nature and Greenery
One reason you may be feeling low in winter is simply because you’re cooped up and not getting enough exposure to the great outdoors. Studies show that our heart rate drops and we become less stressed whenever we are in an environment filled with natural beauty and even just having a plant – or a green painted wall – can have a similar effect.
Even if it’s raining outside then, having a nice plant on your desk or a picture of a sunny beach might just be enough to affect you unconsciously.
Supplement With Vitamin D
Vitamin D is produced by the body when we’re exposed to the sun but many of us aren’t getting enough of it in summer, let alone in winter!
And this is a problem as vitamin D actually acts like something of a ‘master hormone’ and modulates many aspects of our health. It’s thought that vitamin D might have a direct impact on monoamines including serotonin and this could be one direct explanation for why some people get depressive symptoms in the winter. Supplementing with vitamin D can make a big difference therefore and will improve your health in a number of other ways too.