It seems like a long time since we’ve seen the sun for more than a couple of hours doesn’t it? I’m glad it hasn’t been a freezing winter but the mornings and nights are still very dark. I’m struggling to get up in the mornings because it still feels like the middle of the night. I leave work around 4:30 every evening and it feels like 8:30. Except for looking out of the window, I barely see daylight.
This isn’t a ‘woe is me’ moment. I’m simply stating what is probably a reality for most of us. It can be hard to drag yourself out for a walk when it’s pouring with rain and it’s definitely more tempting to curl up in bed with a mug of tea and a book.
However, this doesn’t seem to make me feel any better about the dire weather. Hiding away and watching endless series on Netflix actually makes me feel worse and I’m guessing others probably feel the same.
Usually, January is one of my worst months mental health wise. It can take me a while to get back into the routine of work and it feels like a long slog with not much to look forward to. This year though, I’ve noticed a change in my mood. I’ve felt so much better than usual and I think that’s down to a few things which I’ll share with you below. They’re not revolutionary but sometimes we forget about the small things which can make us happy so here are my 5 ways to overcome seasonal affective disorder.
1. Exercise more
I know, I know; it’s a massive cliché but exercising really does make you feel better and believe it or not, I’m actually enjoying it. You can read about my fractured relationship with exercise here. I’ve always believed that exercise should be for enjoyment and not about just wanting to lose weight. Try to find something you enjoy even if that’s walking your dog or someone elses.
I’ve just started seeing a personal trainer to improve my upper body and core strength. I had my first session on Thursday and I loved it! I went in not really knowing what to expect but I came away feeling much more confident in my ability to use the gym equipment and what equipment I need to use to help me achieve results.
I’ll admit, I’m one of those girls that goes to the gym for cardio and not much else. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but I was finding it boring and it’s not always the most effective form of exercise. My one tip to stop yourself skipping out on the gym is to go straight from work. It’s what I’ve been doing and so far it’s working for me. So yes, exercise definitely distracts me from the dark evenings and has a positive effect on my mental health.
2. Using a SAD lamp
These things are expensive but they do work. I opted for this one on Amazon and have been using it when I work from home. I just place it next to my laptop and it gives that extra bit of light when there’s no sunlight.
I haven’t used it to wake up to yet and am kind of wishing I got the light which turns on when your alarm goes but it was expensive so I’ll try this one first.
3. Keeping busy
Keeping busy and being productive was something I spoke about in my previous post 3 intentions for 2020. I’ve been filling my evenings with the gym, writing or tidying up my space.
It’s given me less time to think about the fact that I’m not outside walking along the beach or sunbathing in the garden with a book (can’t wait for summer!)
Another thing I do is to plan things to look forward to. It’s less than a month until my birthday now and I’m looking forward to a couple of celebrations for that. Even if you just plan a trip to the cinema or a trip out bowling, keeping busy is a good way of banishing the low moods.
What activities work for you when you’re feeling low?