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Feeling Sad or Feeling Seasonal Affective Disorder?

With everything that’s going on in the world, you might find yourself feeling a bit low at the moment. This is completely understandable, and it is important to remember that all feelings are valid and negative feelings usually pass in time.

However, if you notice a sadness or low mood often during the winter months, and rarely during the rest of the year, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of seasonal depression that comes and goes in pattern with the seasons. Most commonly, people describe SAD as taking place in winter and they feel better in the summer, but some people experience it at different times of the year.

The NHS describes symptoms such as a persistent low mood, a loss of interest in normal everyday activities, irritability, feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness, feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day, sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning and craving carbohydrates and gaining weight.

Whilst it is common for many people to experience some of these symptoms over winter, for those who experience SAD they can be debilitating and can impact daily life.

It is important to speak to your GP if you are worried you may be experiencing symptoms of SAD as there are treatments that can make a real difference.

As well as speaking to your GP, making sure you get as much natural sunlight as possible can help improve symptoms. Eating healthily and exercising can also help, as can learning strategies to manage stress levels.

Research has shown that the following Positive Psychology activities* are effective in creating a more positive mood, so try;

  • expressing gratitude for the small things in your life;

  • creating mindful moments where you slow down and use your senses to really pay attention to what is happening (this is great to try when cooking, showering or even washing hands!);

  • showing random acts of kindness;

  • visualising a time or moment that made you happy;

  • taking a photo of something you noticed in nature.

Finally, make sure you take time to practice self-care too! It is too easy to get swept up in our busy lives and end up sitting on the sofa feeling miserable and zoning out. It is far better to engage in enjoyable self-care activities that will help you feel more relaxed, recharged and revitalised.

*Please know that these suggestions are not a magic bullet for SAD, you should always speak to your GP first if you are concerned.


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