I live in Aberdeen and today we are now down to 7 hours and 6 minutes between sunrise and sunset, by Monday it will be under 7 hours. Needless to say up in this neck of the woods we are prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don’t know if I suffer from it per se but I certainly tend to notice my mental health getting worse at this time of year. Below I have compiled a few general tips as well as things that I do specifically.
Listen to your body – It’s natural and normal to need a bit more sleep in the winter months. Without boring you too much with the science bit it’s all to do with the hormone melatonin. When there is less sunlight your body produces more of it. If you can, allowing yourself to sleep until your body wakes up naturally can really help with your mood and energy levels. If you can’t you could try investing in an alarm clock that gradually lights up your room. I have one but don’t find it THAT helpful in the winter months although I always wake up before the back up alarm in the summer. In saying that who knows how cranky I’d be without it.
Get outside if you can – For many of us it’s not possible as the time that’s light is when we will be in work or school but even if you can get outside for a little while on a break or lunchtime and let your body experience natural light it will help to keep that pesky melatonin in check.
Eat regular meals – It’s tempting to fill up on snacks and eat ALL the carbs and if you want to then you go ahead but you might feel better if you eat regular balanced meals throughout the day to keep your energy level up.
Keep busy doing things you enjoy – The dark nights can sometimes mean moping around indoors watching rubbish TV but it can also be a great time of year to embrace indoor hobbies in the evening. I definitely see the number of books I get through increase in the winter time and I write more.
Get moving – This can definitely be combined with getting outside. At this time of year, like many people I can’t be bothered with long strenuous work outs but a quick walk around the block at lunchtime can make all the difference to afternoon energy levels. I’m lucky that I can walk to work and back each day so I at least get some exercise without trying but you can always fit something in during the day if you can’t do that.
See the doctor – If your symptoms are severe and you’re feeling very low, depressed and unable to cope see you GP. Don’t suffer in silence.
If you have any other coping techniques leave them in the comments below.