Shining a light on the winter blues

Healthy Living > Mental health > Beating the winter blues

Blog Article | By The Simplyhealth Team Edited: 7 December 2021

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. 

 

The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that 3 Brits in every 100 suffer from SAD, and women are 3 times more likely to be affected1.

 

The NHS website states that the symptoms of SAD are similar to those of depression, and can vary in the impact it can have on each person. The symptoms that some people experience can include feelings of irritability, despair or worthlessness, stress or anxiousness and tearfulness2.

 

In addition to these feelings, people experiencing SAD may be less active than normal, feeling lethargic and lacking energy, sleeping for longer than usual and have an increased appetite, particularly for comfort style food3.

 

Supporting you and your mental health is close to our hearts at Simplyhealth, particularly as we navigate the winter months during various lockdown restrictions across the UK. 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.

 

To start 2022 in the best health possible, there are a number of simple things you can try to help manage symptoms during the winter months. As part of your New Year resolutions, you could try some of these tips:

A couple smiling surrounded by golden leaves

Natural daylight!

If you can, try going for a walk outside in daylight hours, or spend some time in a park or gardens. Even sitting near a window can be helpful for those who experience SAD during the winter months4. Before we know it spring will be here, with more daylight hours.

A couple hiking on hilltop with autumnal leaves on trees

Keep on moving

Exercise can have a range of health benefits, including boosting your mood. Some days may feel harder than others to find the motivation to exercise. To help you get started, pick a physical activity that you enjoy, or something gentler such as yoga or walking. Remember to always consult your GP before commencing any new or more strenuous exercise.

Son watching mother cook at stove

Fuel your body

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for both your mental and physical wellbeing. If you are feeling fatigued or lethargic, it can be easy to reach for unhealthy convenience foods. However, it is important that you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to help combat low mood and maintain good mental health5. Preparing easy, healthier meals in advance can be a great idea if you are lacking time and motivation in maintaining a balanced diet.

 

For more information on eating the right foods to give your body the nutrient boost it needs, read our article with recommendations from nutritionist Monica Durigon.

Woman lying on sofa reading a book

Coping with stress

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

 

Discover more tips on ways to help manage stress in our article. 

Man peacefully asleep in bed

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 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night6.

 

Ensuring you are getting the right amount of sleep can help to improve your mood and increase your energy levels. If you’re having trouble sleeping, our how to sleep better article provides some practical ways to help you reach the land of nod.

Two friends talking whilst sat on steps outside

Talk about how you're feeling

If you’re experiencing a period of low mood, it may help to share what is on your mind with someone you trust, such as friends, family or colleagues. Or you can always talk to a qualified counsellor if you find it easier talking in confidence. If you have a Simplyhealth Plan you have 24/7 access to speak to a trained counsellor.

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of SAD, speak to your GP to discuss any concerns you may have. If you are diagnosed with SAD, they will be able to discuss the various treatment options available.

Our counselling and advice service over the festive period

 

Whatever’s on your mind over Christmas, a Simplyhealth plan can help you. Talk to a counsellor or qualified adviser on issues ranging from relationship problems and depression to financial and legal disputes.

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