There are many ways you can help combat the effects of SAD. The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand notes that these can range from steps as simple as spending a short period of time outside each day, to requiring medication to help treat symptoms of depression2. If you are experiencing serious symptoms of SAD, it is important you seek professional advice from your doctor.
Some simple steps you can take to ease SAD and help stabilise energy levels include maintaining a daily routine, exercise, having a consistent sleep schedule and regulating meal times. When planning your meals, ensure you are consuming enough whole foods like fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, and lean protein - cutting down on processed food can make a difference in the way you feel, especially during winter.
Keeping a schedule also allows you to plan for social interaction. Staying connected with friends, family and your support networks helps you seek emotional support and combat the feeling of isolation. With International Friendship Day coming up on the 30th July, why not plan a catch up with friends and family?
Light therapy is also a common treatment used to help combat the effects of SAD. This can be as simple as spending time outdoors, especially in the morning, and opening curtains or blinds in your home to let in natural light. This can help improve mood and regulate sleep cycles.
Finally, self-care is an important step to help keep SAD at bay. This could include making time for activities that promote relaxation and wellbeing such as meditation, breathing exercises or hobbies you love. Self-care is known to create a feeling of fulfillment and elevate your mood.
So don’t brush off that change in mood you might be feeling as ‘winter blues’. Take steps to help reduce the impacts of SAD, and you might just feel better for it. The colder months can take a toll on your physical and mental health, and, while you can’t change the temperature, you can make choices to help mitigate the effects it has.