Many of us find our mood takes a dip during the winter time. Maybe you’re sick of the bad weather and the fact it’s still getting dark really early – or the pressure of work or uni has started to take its toll. Whatever you may be struggling with, it’s important to do simple things to look after yourself.
Some people find they struggle with this time of year more than others, this is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that comes and goes with the change in seasons. It’s particularly common during winter – most likely due to the colder and darker weather, but some people can be affected during the summer months.
Signs of SAD are pretty similar to depression and can include symptoms like low mood, disrupted sleep and a disinterest in things you’d usually enjoy.
Whether you’ve been struggling with SAD or just feel a bit ropey right now, here are some tips to help you keep the winter blues at bay.
Low mood can be linked to low levels of natural light, which explains why lots of people feel worse during winter. Some people find that using a special light box or lamp can help, but even just making the most of the daytime by spending time outside can make a huge difference.
The saying goes that you never regret a workout, but it can be tough to drag yourself to the gym or go for that run when it’s cold and wet outside – so don’t sweat it if you can’t face it.
Even some light exercise like a stroll through the park or some yoga with friends can be enough to release those endorphins. Universities run free wellbeing activities and sports sessions too. Check out your university’s website to see what they offer.
Talk it out
With deadlines to meet, exams looming and all the other stresses that come at this time of year – if you’re feeling low, overwhelmed or struggling with your thoughts the chances are, you’re not alone. Talking to someone close to you (in however much detail you’re comfortable with) can really help to alleviate the pressure – particularly if they’re in the same boat. Plus, if you let people know how you’re feeling, it’ll be easier for them to support you.
The endless dilemma of what to eat for dinner can feel even more of a challenge if you’re not feeling your best, especially when the thought of hibernation is much more appealing. If you know you struggle with your mental health at certain times or you can see a busy couple of days approaching, why not prepare some meals in advance to make it easier for future you.
Everything can seem like so much more effort when you’re feeling low. Especially if you have lots of plans and feel like you need to put on a brave face and pretend that everything’s fine. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first and rearrange things if you don’t feel up to it. Or if you’re still up for seeing people, you could opt for a chilled activity like watching a film or grabbing a coffee.
Stick to a sleep schedule
It’s easy to fall out of your routine when your mental health isn’t great, but not sleeping enough (or too much) can make you feel worse. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule can really help improve your mood, increase energy levels and boost productivity.
A funny podcast, a new playlist or your favourite film – distracting your mind with things you love can be a simple, yet effective way of improving your mood during the dreary winter months.
If you’re struggling with your mental health or know someone else who is, take a look at these services that can support you.
Good news, you’re almost out of the woods. Now it’s January the evenings will start getting lighter!