Starting a new year can be tough, once all of the Bank Holidays, feasting and socialising comes to an end, pressing the “Re-start” button can feel like an impossibility. Even more so if you’re suffering from Seasonal Effective Disorder, which might explain why as each season changes, some of us will struggle to find joy in our everyday routine.
“SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.” – NHS
The symptoms of SAD can include: Feeling low, sleeping for longer and despite this, experiencing a lack in energy levels, alongside increased anxiety and feelings of despair.
How can we work through the feelings of SAD?
As we all know, mental health doesn’t have an ‘On’ – ‘Off’ switch, yet with small (very achievable) changes, the battle against SAD can be made easier. Like all good things, it will take time, but you can start right away by making getting a better night’s sleep your priority. As sleep is one of the primary factors of good mental and physical health, it’s worth investing in setting up the perfect place to rest, by changing pillows and removing distractions such as your phone. Can you really put a value on a good night’s sleep? For me, it’s almost priceless.
Whilst I’m on the subject of getting a good night’s sleep, it could be worth changing up your bedtime routine. Adding lavender to your pillow, enjoying a hot milky drink before bed or even investing in a new bedside light.
Making the time to move your body is really important, however, I’d recommend changing up your routine and making time to include a lunchtime walk or run. It’s the perfect way to soak up some sunlight, take a break from the stresses of the day, and return to your desk refreshed. I try to make the time to leave my office for a short walk on a daily basis, the biggest reward is how much better I feel on my return.
Remember that self-care, isn’t selfish and it’s always worth taking the time for things that make you happy. When I’m having a particularly bad mental health week, it’s tempting for me to cancel all my social events, close the curtains and hideaway inside. I make a deal with myself that I’ll have one ‘actively social week’ when I’ll make a point of catching up with friends. Followed by a more relaxing week, where I make time for myself a priority. I find that balancing the two makes me feel less anxious and allows for an improved mental balance.
If you feel that self-help isn’t having the desired effect, I ask you to make a different choice and book an appointment to speak to someone. It might be best to start by speaking with your GP and/or considering whether it’s worth investing in counseling. I can honestly say, that taking the first steps to seek professional help has been incredibly worthwhile to me, it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Alongside it’s not a crime to say no to an event or to miss a 6am gym session to focus on catching up on sleep or to just simply make time for you.