Shining a light on the winter blues

Blog Article | By The Simplyhealth Team | Edited: 16 November 2022

We all have days when we feel like hiding under a blanket and shying away from the world. For some of us, that persistent low mood can come and go with the seasons and there’s a name for it: Seasonal Affective Disorder, also referred to as SAD.

SAD affects around 2 million people in the UK1. There are a range of symptoms that people with SAD can experience, such as persistent low mood, feelings of irritability, despair or worthlessness and trouble concentrating2. Sufferers of SAD may also feel lethargic, sleep for longer than usual and find it difficult to get up in the morning2.

Supporting you and your families’ mental health is close to our hearts at Simplyhealth. That’s why we’ve pulled together this list of things you can do to give yourself some love and self-care during this chilly season.

Man running along path in woods

Natural daylight

If you can, try going for a walk outside in daylight hours, or spend some time in nature. Even sitting near a window can be helpful for those who experience SAD during the winter months3

Keep on moving

Some days may feel harder than others to find the motivation to be physically active, but exercise can have a range of health benefits, including boosting your mood. Did you know? Even a brisk 10-minute walk can clear your mind and help you relax4.

A happy couple walking in the woods

Fuel your body with a healthy, balanced diet

If you are feeling fatigued or lethargic, it can be easy to reach for sugary, processed foods out of convenience, however, it is important that you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to help combat low mood and maintain good mental health. Mild dehydration can make you feel tired5 so ensure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

According to the British Dietetic Association, increasing studies tell us that there is no specific diet that is best for mental health. However, research has shown that people eating “traditional diets” such as the Mediterranean diet or the traditional Japanese or Southern African diet have a 25-35% lower risk of experiencing depression compared to a typical Standard American Diet or a “Western” diet6. It is suggested that this is due to traditional diets tending to be high in whole, unprocessed foods and in general higher in fibre, as opposed to “Western” type diets tending to be higher in processed and added sugar6

A man opening curtains to let sunshine in

Coping with stress

Stress can have a significant impact on both your mental and physical wellbeing. If you’re feeling stressed, try setting aside time for relaxing activities, such as creative crafty projects, reading a book, having a bath or practising calming breathing exercises.

Getting the right amount of shut eye

Healthy sleep is a fundamental part of everyday life, helping us to carry out our day-to-day activities. Everyone’s body is different, however, the NHS recommends that adults require between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night7.

Woman sat on sofa drinking from mug

Talk about how you're feeling

If you are experiencing a period of low mood, it may help to share what is on your mind with someone you trust, such a friend, family member or a colleague. Or you can always talk to a qualified counsellor if you find it easier talking in confidence.

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of SAD, please reach out for support. Speak to your GP to discuss any concerns you may have. If you are diagnosed with SAD, they can support you and discuss the various treatment options available.

Help from Simplyhealth

Through our health plans, customers can be directed to a 24/7 advice and counselling helpline via the SimplyPlan app. Qualified professionals are waiting at the end of the phone to listen and offer practical information and emotional support for coping with life’s challenges.

The SimplyPlan app also provides a 24/7 video GP service, where our customers can speak to a GP via their smartphone or tablet, at a time and from a place that suits them.