Do the changing seasons make you feel low? Here’s how to cope
Monday, 2 November · 2 min read

Shorter days and longer nights can make many people feel the “winter blues”.

This is typically a drop in mood that happens at the same time each year and can be a sign of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression that affects about 1-2% of people and is most common in younger people, typically between the ages of 20 to 30. It’s also up to 5 times more likely to affect women.

People with SAD often:

  • feel sad, low or hopeless.
  • sleep for longer and find it hard to get up in the morning.
  • lose pleasure or interest in things.
  • feel sleepy during the day and as if they lack energy.
  • crave eating carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain.
  • feel irritable.

If you think you have SAD and are struggling to cope, it’s best speak to your doctor.

But if your symptoms are mild, there are a few steps you can take at home to help you manage:

1. Get plenty of natural light
Sunlight helps produce a hormone called serotonin that can boost your mood. A drop in serotonin levels during the winter is linked to SAD. Make the most of the daylight hours by going for a walk, getting outdoors or sitting by a window.

2. Exercise regularly
Sticking to a daily exercise routine will release chemicals in your brain like endorphins and serotonin that will lift your spirits. If you can, do it outdoors.

3. Eat a balanced diet
The cold weather can make you crave foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates such as pasta and white bread. Try sticking to food rich in whole grains and omega 3 as both are known to improve your mood.

4. Try practicing relaxation techniques
Deep breathing and mindfulness can help to combat stress and manage any anxiety you might be feeling with the change in the weather.

Quote of the day

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.

Aristotle

Quick Quiz
True or false: Seasonal affective disorder only occurs in winter
Tips for looking after your mental health this winter