SAD and how to combat it

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD) is “a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern” and is sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ because symptoms are more apparent, or worse, during the winter months.

People can experience low moods, anxiety, lack of energy, as well as many other symptoms that can come along with depression.

There isn’t a conclusive reason as to what causes Seasonal Affective Disorder, but many link it to sunlight exposure. The days in winter are darker for a lot longer, and this can make people feel rather negative.

UKIM’s Lead Psychologist, Dr Kayode, shares some tips on how to combat SAD:

  • Get as much sunlight as possible. Get outside often by walking, exercising, or sitting in an outdoor space. Also, let light into your home and workspace by opening blinds and sit close to a window.
  • Try a sunlight alarm clock. These alarm clocks gradually light up your bedroom in the morning, mimicking sunrise, helping to prepare your body to wake up.
  • Exercise. A great way to boost your mood, energy levels and relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.
  • Eat healthily. Follow a balanced diet that includes many whole-natural foods like vegetables, fruits, eggs, whole grains, nuts, and avoid ultra-processed foods.
  • Manage Stress. Learn ways to relax and manage stress, such as meditation, mindfulness, planning and being organized, breathing exercises, or hanging out with friends.
  • Socialize. When it comes to socializing, it’s quality over quantity. Avoid those who tend to make you feel bad or negative and spend time with people you enjoy being around.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. While these things may help to relieve symptoms temporarily, they leave you feeling much worse off in the long run.
  • Ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is a term used to describe the practice of being outside in nature for its therapeutic benefits. It can also be referred to as green therapy. It simply involves being outside in some way, like through exercise or gardening, and appreciating the beauty of the nature.

Occupational Health Support can also play a part - SAD can have an impact on employee’s mental health and experience at work. Having access to OH support can help improve employee’s mood and optimise the quality of work being carried out.