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Are you feeling SAD?

The nights are drawing in, the days are getting colder and whilst nature provides us with the beautiful spectacle that is autumn, many of us dread the colder and darker months.

You might find yourself feeling down, tired, upset, unable to concentrate and generally lacking interest in life. You might not want to leave the house and feel like pulling the duvet back over your head in the mornings.


If this sounds familiar you might be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short. SAD is essentially a seasonal form of depression (NHS inform). This means it is more likely to occur around a similar time each year- for most people in winter.


What exactly causes SAD is not really clear but one factor might be that we don't get exposed to the same amount of natural sunlight as during the summer months. This can affect the production of hormones in your body (NHS).


Another reason might be that you might feel under more pressure during this time of year, for example with Christmas coming up which can be a difficult and emotional time for many people. Many businesses and employers might also focus on finishing the year “strong” which can add extra workload and lead to more stress.


Whilst there is no immediate cure for SAD, there are things that might help you to manage your feelings of depression.


Making sure you get as much natural sunlight as possible is important. You might want to consider getting a SAD lamp which mimics natural light. I have one myself and have personally found it helpful but it might not work for everyone.


Try to manage your stress levels as best you can. We can't avoid stress completely but finding ways to manage our stress levels is important. Mindfulness, meditation, doing some form of exercise that you enjoy or any self care activity that helps you to relax and to switch off is vital. Self care is often not high on our agenda but taking time out to look after yourself is essential to maintain your emotional and overall wellbeing.


Often, especially at this time of year, it feels easier to turn to food, shopping, alcohol or any number of unhelpful things to help us to relax but these strategies often only provide a temporary fix or relief. It might be helpful for you to take some time to reflect on your needs and what might nurture and relax you.


If your SAD feels overwhelming and too much to cope with, please do ask for help. Therapy provides a safe space for you to explore and express what is going on for you.


Autumn and winter can also be a time to reflect and take stock of our lives. Sadly we are often too busy or distracted to allow ourselves the time to do so. If you feel like you need a break- give yourself permission to hit the pause button.


Take time out and take care of yourself - you deserve it!




References

NHS (2022). Overview- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), NHS website, www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/overview/, accessed on 23.10.2023

NHS inform (2023). Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), NHS inform, www.nhsinform.scot, accessed on 23.10.2023

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