Dealing with dark days

Literally, dark days. You know the story…it’s dark when you get up and dark when you get home. #northernhemisphereproblems…

The lack of natural light in winter can affect some people quite acutely. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression linked to the winter months. The symptoms include lethargy, persistent low mood, anxiousness, loss of interest in activities – which then tend to improve in spring/ summer.

I’ve always noticed a change in my mood and a general loss of enthusiasm around November/December but until a few years ago I had never heard of SAD. As you might guess from my blog title…I love sunshine and I soon find myself missing the bright mornings! Despite experiencing 26 winters, the darkness always comes as a surprise to me. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt unsettled, restless and more tired than usual. Mornings are difficult.

Here are some of my strategies to help alleviate the winter blues…

Firstly (and most importantly!): get outside!

Yep, it’s a struggle if you work 9-5 in an office (or like me, in a windowless lab).  Last winter, I tried to get out for a run at least one lunchtime a week – I’m going to do the same this year (haven’t started yet though…maybe next week, better late than never  🙂 ).  Walking would do – anything than gets you out in the fresh air! Exercise in general is a great boost for anyone struggling with low mood.

autumn-tree

Autumn at Westonbirt Arboretum

Daylight bulbs

As the name suggests, these light bulbs mimic daylight. It’s bright, white light – very different to the yellow light we typically have in our homes. My daylight bulb (an Amazon purchase for under £10) has moved through 3 different houses and is still going after 5 years of almost daily use. I love it! It’s so bright that my old housemates used to call my room the magic box. It’s currently in my closet so that I get my daylight fix when I’m getting ready in the mornings.

So, does it work? I’ve had mine for so long that it’s difficult to notice changes but I think it helps kick start my mornings and makes me feel more alert.

It’s s a cheap and cheerful option and as an added bonus, white light apparently causes your eyes less strain than yellow light…

 

Daylight bulbs continued….my Phillips Lumie Bodyclock

I first came across this daylight alarm clock a few years ago. I struggle to get up in the mornings and this product claims it can ‘keep your sleep cycle on track, boosting mood, energy and productivity levels all day’.

The premise: you set a rough time to be woken up and the Lumie gradually illuminates to mimic the sunrise, waking you gently. There is science behind this – waking slowly keeps your levels of stress hormones low and has also been linked to increased alertness during the day!

Does it work? Yes – in that it wakes me up. Opening your eyes to a bright room instead of pitch black is a nice feeling and definitely a more peaceful process than being jerked awake by a phone alarm! But I’m still quite good at ignoring the light and going back to sleep so I always set a back-up audible alarm…

I might be more effective if I used it regularly but my boyfriend does NOT appreciate daylight at 6am. No one likes being woken up earlier than they need to be and on a hair-washing morning I have to get up a full hour before him! (I have been trying to re-introduce this over the last few days so maybe I’ll be able to post an update!)

Of course this is just scratching the surface and I’m not an expert – just sharing in the hope that this is useful to someone. Do you have any tips for dealing with the dark winter months?

H x

If you think you have SAD and it’s affecting your life – or if you have any other type of depression – don’t suffer alone. There is always someone who can help  🙂

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