According to Sue Pavlovich of the
Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA), these 10 tips could
help. “Everyone’s affected differently by SAD so what works for one person
won’t for another. But there’s usually something that will help, so don’t give up
if the first remedy you try doesn’t work. Just keep trying," she
1. Keep active
Research has shown that a
daily one-hour walk, in the middle of the day, could be as helpful as light
treatment for coping with the winter blues. A brisk walk will boost your
energy levels and strengthen your immune system to fend off winter colds and
2. Get outside
Go outdoors in natural
daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on bright
days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from
outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.
3. Keep warm
Being cold makes you more
depressed. It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce psychological
distress, including the winter blues, by half. Keep warm with hot drinks and hot
food. Wear warm clothes and shoes (a few layers are better than one chunky
layer). Aim to keep your home between 18 and 21 centigrade (or 64 and 70
degrees). It's especially important to keep your bedroom and main living room
warm. Draw the curtains at night to help keep the warmth in. For further
information on what you can do, including grants to keep your home warm, visit
the Keep Warm Keep Well website.
4. Eat healthily
A healthy diet will boost your mood,
give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your
craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh
fruit and vegetables. "Some people tell us that taking extra vitamin D
helps," adds Pavlovich. Good food sources of vitamin D are oily fish and
5. Lighten up
Light therapy can be effective in up to
85% of diagnosed cases. One way to get light therapy at home in winter is
to sit in front of a light box for up to one or two hours a day.
Light boxes give out very bright light
that’s at least 10 times stronger than ordinary home and office lighting.
They’re not available on the NHS and cost around £100 or more.
"Some people find that using a
dawn simulator [a bedside light, connected to an alarm clock, which mimics a
sunrise and wakes you up gradually] as well as a light box can enhance the
beneficial effect," says Pavlovich.
The SADA Information Pack contains full details of recommended
light box manufacturers and how to use them.
6. Take up a new hobby
Keeping your mind active
with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD, says Pavlovich. "It
could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining
a gym, keeping a journal or writing a blog. The important thing is that you
have something to look forward to and concentrate on," she adds.
7. See your friends and family
It’s been shown that
socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues.
You may feel like staying in on your own and avoiding other people until spring
arrives. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and
accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a
little while. It will really help lift your spirits.
8. Talk it through
Talking treatments such
as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help
you cope with symptoms. See your GP for information on what's available locally
on the NHS and privately. Or, read this article on how to access
9. Join a support group
Think about joining a support group. Sharing your experience with others who
know what it's like to have SAD is very therapeutic and can make your symptoms
the UK’s only registered charity dedicated to seasonal affective disorder. It
costs £12 (£7 for concessions) to join and you’ll receive an information pack,
regular newsletters, discounts on products such as light boxes and contacts for
10. Seek help
If your symptoms are so bad that you can't live a normal life, see your GP for
medical help. In severe cases of SAD, prescription antidepressant tablets are
effective, and they can be combined with other treatments like talking therapy.
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