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5 ways to cope with SAD this winter

Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) can be debilitating, but there are plenty of ways to boost your mood and make the most of the winter months.

Winter is coming. The nights are drawing in. The days are becoming chillier. And hibernation period is approaching. Winter can make getting up in the morning and staying positive a real challenge. It can be especially debilitating for those that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD is a form of depression that tends to affect people during the winter months. Due to lower levels of sunlight during colder seasons, your body’s internal clock can get out of sync with its natural circadian rhythm. The most common symptoms of SAD are fatigue and depression, which can be mild or severe.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to cope with the blues this winter—here are 5 ways to combat SAD and be yourself this season:
 
Soak up as much vitamin D as you can (Credit: Ollie Holder)
Soak up as much vitamin D as you can (Credit: Ollie Holder)

1. Soak up some sunshine

There's no doubt about it: sunshine is good for you. It’s been proven to lower blood pressure and levels of stress, while increasing serotonin and endorphins in your brain. This can help you feel happier and more relaxed, which will make winter easier to handle. So try getting out in the daylight by walking to work, going out on your lunch break, or for 5 minutes in the afternoon, whatever you can manage. You can get creative, too—try moving your desk closer to the window, take a run at lunchtime, or swap your video call for a walking meeting whilst you stroll around the block.

2. Stay sociable

SAD can be exacerbated by loneliness and depression. These feelings can start to become unmanageable if you start spending long periods of time alone. That's why it's so important to meet regularly with loved ones in order to give your mood a lift.
 
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
 
Meet a friend for dinner, call a family member or invite your neighbours over for a game night. You could try volunteering or joining a club to meet new people too. The more you get out and about, the more likely it is that your mood will improve.

3. Use light therapy

Light therapy is a simple and effective treatment you can use to help treat SAD. The purpose of light therapy is to simulate natural sunlight, which helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and improve mood, energy levels, and sleep. The most common way of trying light therapy cheaply and effectively is through a light box (we love Lumie), which is a small machine that produces a high-intensity white light similar to daylight. They also give off UV rays which help improve mood by boosting serotonin production in the brain, and over time, can lessen the effects of SAD.
 
Use light therapy such as a Lumie to wake up easier on dark mornings
Use light therapy such as a Lumie to wake up easier on dark mornings

4. Manage your stress levels

Stress can exacerbate and worsen symptoms of SAD, so it's important to manage your stress levels in order to keep SAD at bay. The best way to do this is by eating a varied diet, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. You could also try practising mindfulness, meditation, breath work, or relaxation techniques. But keeping your stress under control is about more than the obvious solutions—it's whatever works for you, from solo trips to the cinema to strolling around the park—however you wind down and blow off steam.

5. Take supplements or vitamins

It’s harder to get sufficient levels of Vitamin D when there is less sunlight in winter, so its recommended to get an extra boost through supplements. Vitamin D is known to help improve your mood and sleep quality, both of which are common symptoms associated with SAD. In fact, studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation can lead to significant improvements in the symptoms of people suffering from SAD. And it’s not just vitamin D, the following have been shown to be effective at tackling SAD:
— Vitamin D — Vitamin B3 — Vitamin B9 — Melatonin — Magnesium — Vitamin C
The only thing to keep in mind is that these vitamins should not replace sunlight and proper diet.
Look after yourself and take time out to relax during a busy social season (Credit: Ollie Holder)
Look after yourself and take time out to relax during a busy social season (Credit: Ollie Holder)
 
The best thing you can do for SAD this winter is to take care of yourself. Get outside, soak up some sunshine, go for plenty of walks with friends, wind down, and rest up. Unplugged offers the perfect place to do just that—our cabins are designed to help you switch off and recharge surrounded by nature. Read more about our mission here.