Embracing Winter: Understanding and Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Embracing Winter: Understanding and Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

As someone who looks forward to winter – the cooler temperatures, the comfy clothes and the beautiful sunny day after a narly frost, it has been interesting to me to chat with clients over my career about how winter affects each individual. I’ve heard many clients mention feeling more tired, less motivated, and generally "flat" as winter approaches. Committed to helping people lead healthier lives, I decided to dig deeper into the science behind these recurring patterns. 

 I’ve come to understand that for many, winter brings more than a delightful flurry of snow. It can also bring a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

SAD is a scientifically recognised condition that affects many people during the autumn and winter months when daylight hours are shorter (or when the fog takes over Cromwell…) It's linked to reduced levels of sunlight, which can disrupt our internal body clock (circadian rhythm) and lead to a drop in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. Low levels of serotonin are associated with feelings of depression. 

This newfound understanding has been a game-changer. Recognizing SAD as a real phenomenon means we can take proactive steps to combat it. If you feel a bit down during this time of year, remember, you're not alone, it's not your fault, and there are steps you can take to reduce its effects. 

Here are some tips to boost your mood and energy levels during winter: 

Stay Active: Even a short walk outside can make a big difference. The combination of exercise and exposure to natural light is incredibly beneficial. 

Healthy Eating: Maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help stabilise your mood and energy levels. 

Consistent Sleep Routine: Keeping a regular sleep schedule helps regulate your body's internal clock – turn off those devices 1-2hours before you go to bed! 

Understanding SAD has changed how I approach my own well-being during winter and how I support my clients. It’s a powerful reminder that our mental health is deeply interconnected with our physical health and environment. By acknowledging and addressing these seasonal challenges, we can all lead happier, healthier lives year-round. 

So, let’s embrace the chill, stay active, and nourish our bodies and minds.

Remember, it’s okay to acknowledge when you’re not feeling your best. Together, we can work towards brighter days, even in the heart of winter. 

Stay warm and cheerful! 


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