Are you SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a feeling you can get at certain times of the year.

It is a form of depression and affects people in different degrees, but at its worst it can seriously affect lives.

Probably the most common situation is during the winter months. Most people love to be outdoors during the warmer months, as this can affect both their physical and mental health, making you feel happier in the warm sunshine and more inspired to take part in physical activity.

In the colder seasons, when we have grey, damp days, there may not seem much incentive to get out of the house. It’s hard to see the benefit of being in a cold, wet environment and to be motivated to exercise.

The problem can be like a spiral – the less you go out and/or exercise, the more depressed you could become. Your body reacts to this and your eating and sleeping routines are affected.

When you’re feeling low, depressed and de-motivated you may find you can’t be bothered with some tasks, like eating properly, and reach for unhealthy foods. This may cause you to gain weight, which could add to the depression, and so the spiral begins.

There are other symptoms which may occur and, when allowed to take hold, these can lead to serious depression.

But there is help available, and you can try and look after yourself to keep any feelings of depression to a minimum.

As usual, and because we are all different, some strategies will work for you better than others. The trick is to find what works for you.

MIND, the mental health charity, has loads of ideas for you to try. Have a look at their website, and search for SAD.

If your problem is winter SAD, try and get as much natural light as possible, whether it’s getting outside or just sitting near a window, this should help.

My thoughts about this are that if you can get outside, fresh air and the exercise of a walk will help. Even if the weather is cold, as long as you wrap up warm, find a green space to walk in, you should feel a bit better. Being in nature is good for the soul, too. If you notice an improvement in your mood after taking a walk, remember that feeling so that if you find yourself struggling again, you’ll know it did you good, so do it again.

Plan ahead

MIND suggest that if you regularly suffer from SAD, you may well recognize the symptoms as they occur, so react accordingly.

As mentioned earlier, we don’t always feel that we can be bothered to make a healthy meal when we’re low, so MIND recommend that when you’re feeling good, do some batch cooking and freeze some. This makes it easier to look after yourself when you’re not at your best.

Stock up on basic food items, in case you can’t face going shopping.

Talking to someone about how you feel can be good therapy, whether it’s a friend, relative or a professional. You may feel alone but you don’t have to.

Keep a diary of how you feel each day, what triggered your mood and emotions and re-read them in the future. This may be useful to help you cope if you can see a pattern of both causes and remedies.

I’ve only scratched the surface here, MIND do a great job with information to help you understand your condition as well as signposting to various organisations.

Don’t be alone, take the first step and go to and read their information and see if you recognise anything of what they say .