It's OK to feel SAD
I was really interested to read the response to my recent post where I confessed to feeling down and how I was struggling with the cross over between Autumn and Winter. It seems many of you are feeling the same, so I thought I would share with you some of my tips on how to beat the Winter Blues.
First let’s define what Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD is), the Help Guide states that “SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Symptoms can sap your energy and make you feel moody”. I am sure many of you can relate to feeling this way and this year I was shocked by how quickly I started to feel the effects.
So, what did I do to drag myself out of the dark days? Here are my top tips on how to survive the change in season:
Whether that be a gym class, a walk on your own, a long jog make the time to take some regular exercise although it doesn’t have to be strenuous. For me this meant getting back into yoga, I had had an extended period of having no yoga in my life due to going back to work so when a new yoga studio opened up in my town, I was one of the first people to sign up. This means I have an awesome deal where I can go as often as I need throughout the month and it’s such a beautiful, relaxing space I kind of wish I could move in or at least take a long extended nap there! The game changer with this yoga studio is it is set up for people who work, this makes it so easy for me to add it in to my life easily, which is key.
I can’t emphasis this one enough, the natural light from the sun at this time of year is limited and if you spend too long inside this can negatively impact your body-clock. Ideally you should not wear sunglasses (avoid looking directly at the sun if it is out) and spend some time outside without sunscreen on. Sunscreen is so important but it also stops us from absorbing the good (as well as the bad) from the sun. Recently I changed my job which has meant instead of walking and cycling to and from the station, I drive for up to 2 hours a day. This seems like such a small thing but it has meant that I have lost an hour of “outdoor time” as a result and I attribute much of my negative mood to this change. So now at every opportunity I get outside, if that means having a cup of tea in my lunch hour, carving out time for a nature walk or holding a walking meeting, I make time outside a priority.
Start a creative project
I have been devouring Emma’s “Making Winter” book which is such a wonderful source of inspiration and has some many brilliant creative projects to be doing this Winter. This is the first year I have been running Botanical Tales which in some ways is my creative project and keeps my mind occupied in the evenings. This means I don’t fall in to the trap of spending endless evenings watching rubbish television and because most of my work is related to nature, forces me to get outside (see point above). Have a think about what hobby or creative project you could start this Winter.
Embrace the Hygge
There’s been a lot written about Hygge and how it is now a passing trend but it’s wrong to think of it in this way. Hygge is not a trend it is put simply, a feeling. You need to be aware of the present, conscious of your surroundings and have the ability to take things slowly. I love nothing more than being outside but in the Autumn and Winter where this isn’t as easy, I also fully embrace those evenings where we light the fire, fill the living room with candles and spend time together as a family. This is such a simple thing that many of us do without thinking, so next time, really take the time to observe your surroundings, embrace your feelings and sit back and enjoy the moment of cosy calm.
Play close attention to the artificial light that you use in your house
One way is to invest in a light box which delivers a controlled amount of white light to your body, whilst eliminating harmful UV rays. Apparently, the effects can be felt as quickly as 2 days after use and all symptoms are reduced within two weeks. It’s an expensive investment though and not one I have made, as I prefer to manage through the more natural ways I have listed above. There are also things called Daylight Bulbs that you can switch too in your house, Craft Planter pointed these out to me, I’m planning on investing in some!
Help yourself get up in the morning
This doesn’t really work for me at the moment as I have two boys who insist on waking somewhere between 5.30-6 without fail every day. However, in the past I use a Lumi light to aid my wake-ups each morning. Essentially the clock begins to get light approximately 15 minutes before you need to wake up, so when you do open your eyes the room is softly lit rather than dark as ink. It also means you are not relying on an alarm clock to shock you out of your slumber. Psychologically I found this is a game changer. Even though I can’t make use of this light at the moment, I have made changes anyway, I now embrace the early mornings (when I can), I’m currently writing this at 5am in the morning after a particularly early rise from my eldest and am choosing the 6.15 yoga class over the late night one. It was hard to begin with but my body has adjusted and I have a spring in my step when I get out of bed now.
Don’t fight it
My last point is to not fight the feelings that are associated with SAD. I did this for many years, berating myself for falling in to the same pattern of emotions and behaviours as the prior year but it is of no help at all to do this. This year when the feelings returned, I listened to my body, stopped, slowed down (took a break from social media) and focussed on all the points above. It took a while but a month later, I was back to my normal (whatever that is) self. Make sure your family are aware and can support your feelings rather than question what the matter is all the time.
If you are looking for inspiration on creative projects to do this Winter, then why not sign up to my newsletter here? I am preparing a series of creative projects including how to make a wreath, forage for a Christmas Tree and make a conscious advent calendar.
I hope you have taken value out of my tips for staying strong this Winter, I would love to hear from you and if you have any of your own ways to combat the dark days, please leave me a comment below.