On average, 29 per cent of people in the United Kingdom suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) each year, according to research from YouGov.
SAD, also known as ‘the winter blues’, is a major depressive disorder that occurs during the winter months when there is less sunlight. It is most common for those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, although it can also occur in children, adolescents and the elderly.
SAD can have a serious impact on your desire to work and your overall well-being. Symptoms of SAD can vary, depending on the severity of the condition, but generally include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low energy and fatigue
- Decreased interest in daily activities, especially social activities
- Moodiness and irritability
- Increased appetite with weight gain
- Increased desire to sleep, with more daytime sleepiness
Even though it may seem nearly impossible to avoid developing SAD, it is relatively simple to reduce its symptoms. If you experience any of the symptoms of SAD this winter, try these seven tips to help you beat the winter blues:
- Stay active. Exercise releases endorphins, which are your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals.
- Get outdoors. As the days are shorter, you need to take every opportunity that you can to get outdoors and absorb as much natural light as possible.
- Stay warm. Being cold makes you more susceptible to depression. So, stay warm and stay happy.
- Eat healthy. A well-balanced diet packed with fresh fruits and vegetables will boost your mood and give you more energy.
- Reduce stress. Managing stress and finding time to relax can help limit the effects of SAD.
- Try light therapy. If you cannot get enough natural light, consider purchasing a vitamin D lamp.
- Be more social. Interacting with others helps reduce the effects of depression.
- Participate in talk therapy. If your seasonal affective disorder is acute, try talk therapy. By talking about what’s going on inside your head, you take away some of your depression’s power over you.
If you believe you may be suffering from SAD, it’s important to speak to your GP. He or she may recommend medication and other SAD-management approaches. Please make sure to keep an eye on your employees over this January period to maintain support within the workplace.