Mental Health Reviews

The Winter Blues

This time of year can be magical and joyous and sparkly and happy but for a lot of people, including myself in the past, it can also be miserable and depressing and sad. Literally SAD. I’m talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a very real condition which can affect anyone in the Winter months, when daylight is shorter, darkness creeps in at 4 p.m and ultimately can leave people feeling, well, miserable.

The NHS website states that SAD is often caused when the affects of sunlight and daylight aren’t apparent in parts of the brain called the hypothalamus and causes it to stop working properly. This affects the product of melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy and is more apparent in people with SAD) and serotonin (themood hormone, which will be lower in people with SAD). Your genes and circadian rhythm (body clock) can also have an impact. Wow, didn’t think you’d be getting a science lesson today did ya?!

I have an odd experience of SAD because mine showed up the same year I developed anxiety. So thinking back now, it could have been a mixture of both or it could have been due to the fact I couldn’t leave the house because I was too anxious and ill, therefore, that led me to develop SAD because I wasn’t getting any natural light or sun. I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t seeing anyone. The symptoms of SAD are similar to those of depression: low moods, loss of interest in things, feelings of worthlessness, sleeping more than usual etc. so it’s difficult to differentiate between whether you just have SAD or whether you have depression.

But as always, it’s important to go and see a doctor if you think you’re suffering from either and can’t cope.SAD can’t be cured by lighting a few candles and having a bubble bath. Although those things may make your environment a little nicer or help temporarily, SAD is a real issue that needs to be treated as seriously as depression does. There’s no cure-for-all with SAD and as all mental health conditions, things work differently for everyone. Here are some tips on how to get through the Winter months if they’re getting you down. I’m not a qualified professional, I’m just sharing what helps me. Take it or leave it.

1. Make your indoor “space” somewhere you want to be: So when it’s dark and dingy, you know you have a nice, safe, happy room to be in. This is an instance where nice candles might be useful!

2. Try and get outside at least once a day: when it’s day time. This might be difficult but even if it means going for a walk during your lunch break if that’s the only time available to you to get outside when it’s daylight.

3. Keep your room / house well-lit: Although dim lamps and fairy-lights are cute, if you suffer with SAD, the more light around, the better so maybe switch to a higher voltage bulb during Winter.

4. Practice self-care: And do more of what you enjoy and makes you happy. Have that bubble bath, if it’s going to help for an hour. Take more time to cook your favourite warm, hearty meals, watching your favourite shows, reading books, exercising and spending time with loved ones.

5. Make evening plans: So you don’t associate evenings with dark, dreary, cold Winter nights. Cinema dates, going out for meals or even just for a casual evening drive with your favourite songs blaring. Make dark nights a positive time of day.

6. Take up a new hobby: Something that will take up some time and that you enjoy that can totally immerse you throughout the Winter months.

7. Write things down: Cliché as heck, I know but writing things down really does help. Either a quick sentence how you’re feeling or elaborate paragraphs – just get those feelings out!

8. Make plans for the following year: Especially in Spring and Summer. This will give you something to look forward to and remind you that Winter and the dark days and nights are only temporary.

9. Talk to someone: If you’re struggling, talking to someone about how you’re feeling will always help. Friends, family or if you want to confine in someone anonymous, call the Samaritans.

10. See a doctor: If you’re really struggling and all other options have failed then your port of call is the doctor. Don’t worry about wasting their time either because they will have seen a ton of people all experiencing SAD symptoms.

Have you ever experienced SAD? Do you have any advice for anyone struggling at this time of year? Or any suggestions of anything that will help? Let’s discuss!

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Jenny in Neverland

Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

90 Comments

  1. SAD is boring and predictable and I’ve had it for years …. I do like your post – really great to hear other people talk about it. I must confess that I am spoiling myself and husband this year and we’re heading off to the mountains for a week in the alps to get some real air and real light and exercise. This will carry me through until the spring deigns to arrive in Scotland. It is very cold, dark and grisly here!

  2. The dog is so cute!! And super good tips!! ❤

    1. Thank you xx

  3. i found this really interesting I actually hadnt heard of this before

    1. Wow really?

  4. thenorthernwritesblog says:

    I had no idea this was even a thing. It is intriguing though. I often find myself in a rut of never seeing daylight in these months and it’s certainly a pretty depressing feeling. To combat it I try and get out, go for a walk in the daylight on my lunch break. Anything to break the cycle really!

    Hannah @ The Northern Writes | http://www.thenorthernwrites.co.uk

    1. It certainly is a thing – think we can all suffer from it to a degree xxx

  5. I usually struggle with low mood in December, specifically. And January, too, I suppose. I never really thought it was connected to SAD though, I just thought it was depression. Whichever it is, you’ve given some great tips and ideas I’ll be using to help myself feel better! Thanks for sharing.

    1. It could certainly be SAD, if you find a pattern in when it shows up and you’re mood generally isn’t like that for the rest of the year! I hope these help and please go to the doctors if you think it’s getting really bad 🙂 xxx

  6. This is so important and those tips were definitely something I needed to hear. Thank you so much xx

    1. You’re very welcome! xxx

  7. Helpful read. I have depression but thankfully not SAD. Though I do suffer from depression more once the holidays are over. Mostly because I don’t feel like I have much to look forward to. Lucky for me I’m going on a trip to Italy next March so that will alleviate my seasonal blues I think.

    1. That would definitely make me excited. Hope you have a lovely trip xxx

  8. Some amazing tips here I’m sure so many people will find incredibly useful. Winter is actually my favourite season so I struggle to understand people who suffer from SAD a lot of the time but it often crosses my mind that people must be having a hard time. I think taking up a new hobby would be great for a lot of people in winter! x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

    1. I love Winter too but when the sun isn’t out and you’re not getting the chemicals you need, it doesn’t matter how much you love a Season unfortunately. I love winter cos I love the cold! The heat makes me miserable xxx

  9. I’m actually taking a course in university in which we talked about how people living in countries where they don’t get a lot of sunlight are more prone to depression and other mental illness! I learnt a lot more about it after reading this post and since I live in UAE where it’s sunny 90% of the time, I feel like I should definitely be grateful instead of complaining about the heat all the time 😅
    But there are actually there day light lamps they sell on amazon that are made specifically for people who have SAD or living in countries where it gets dark really fast so that could be helpful! Great post’ 💕

    1. I think I learnt about this in sixth form as well during psychology. Although it’s unfortunate for a lot of people it’s definitely interesting to look into the biology and psychology of it! I wouldn’t cope in the UAE I hate the heat! xxx

  10. THIS was amazingly informational! I have never heard of SAD and I’m glad something like this could be brought to my attention. Raising awareness is of great importance! Great post!

    1. Awh thank you I’m glad you liked the post! xxx

  11. A friend of mine suffers from SAD about in the summer – it’s awful as there’s not a huge deal that you can do about the weather etc! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences – I hope you’re doing ok x

    1. In the summer? That’s unusual! I’m doing okay thank you! xxx

  12. I’ve never heard of SAD before so thank you for enlightening me! I have however heard of the winter blues which hits our household every year, so maybe your tips will help us all to at least feel less blue, dreary and sad. Thanks!

    Love,
    Dominique

    http://www.fashionedbypluche.blogspot.com

    1. You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed the post! xx

  13. Great advice, I think this post will really help people who are struggling this winter. Personally, I found the last two winters particularly tough as I was under the weather with my thyroid levels which caused me to have low energy & anxiety therefore I wasn’t venturing outside and the dark days seem to be constant. I found indulging in the things that made me happy helped me through, relaxing baths, reading and listening to my favourite music. It’s important to grab onto what makes you happy and sticking with it.

    1. I’m so glad those things helped you! I suffer from bad anxiety so I’m at home a lot too so really indulging in those little comforts can be a huge help xxx

      1. Those little things can be a God send in dark times. Whatever bit of sunshine you can bring into your life is worth it. X

  14. These are amazing tips! Although I wouldn’t say that I suffer, I do get super tired and find myself a lot less motivated than I usually am- https://sophiehearts.net x

    1. Maybe you get an element of it! Take care of yourself (: xx

      1. Thank you lovely!x

  15. I have never heard of SAD so thank you so much for this post. Also a blog post like this is so nice to read because it is so different from everyone else’s blogmas posts. Such a lovely idea xx

    1. Awh thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it xxx

  16. Corinne and Kirsty says:

    I didn’t even know such a word existed. but it is great to put a name on it. I always feel winter a bit sad and depressing because it is dark so early and i feel like i have time for nothing

    1. Yeah well it stand for Seasonal Affective Disorder. I think a lot of people feel like that because of the dark days x

  17. I definitely feel down a bit in the winter months. Not sure if it’s exactly what you are talking about though. I have heard about it before and I know someone who has a lamp specifically made for SAD it basically simulates the sun rays and she bought it at a regular department store I think. I hope that helps!

    1. Great tip! These lights can be a life saver for some people xx

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