The clocks have gone back, the days are getting colder, and Christmas is just around the corner. Whilst some people love the darker nights and bustle of the season, for many others it can bring out some disruptive side effects.

Why do we get the ‘winter blues’?

The winter blues are also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is not yet fully clear why around 1 in 3 of us get SAD in the winter months, but some researchers say it may be linked to the disruption of our circadian rhythm.

The symptoms can include:

  • Low mood
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Change eating habits
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of pleasure in things you previously enjoyed

Ideas to feel better

If your symptoms are debilitating then you should make an appointment to see your doctor who may recommend medication or talking therapies. However, there are also steps that you can take early on to help ease the symptoms. For example, getting outdoors and basking in natural light for an hour a day can help to tackle SAD. Here are some ways that you could incorporate more natural light into your daily life over winter:

Go for a walk – You no longer need to wake up in the very early hours to see the sunrise at this time of year. Try and get out of the house in time to see the sun rise or set at least once a week. Take pictures and collate them over the winter so you can track the changes and feel hopeful once the days get longer.

Start birdwatching – if you’re unable to walk far then spend some time in your garden or local park watching the birds. Birds are often a lot easier to spot in the wintertime and you can encourage more to visit you by putting out some seed or fat balls.

Take a walking meeting – If you’ve got a busy work schedule that sees you trapped in an artificially lit office during daylight hours then try to arrange some of your meetings outdoors. Walking meetings are said to increase creative thinking and spur on productivity.

If you’re really stuck for time then just taking a few minutes to get out of the car and breathe deeply is still beneficial for our health.

Look after your overall health

The NHS recommends that we all consider taking Vitamin D supplements during the winter, as the sun is not strong enough to provide us with the amount which we need. Vitamin D keeps our bones and muscles healthy which is important to consider if we are spending more time exercising outside. If we are suffering from low mood and low energy levels then we can be quick to forget about the physical impacts of these issues on our bodies. By staying active and happy over the winter we are helping to support our bodies during the warmer months of the year too. If you want to learn about more ways to support your overall health during the winter then you should take a look at this previous article written by our nutritionist, Steph Hayes.