Tips for happiness, how you can recover from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Tips for happiness, how you can recover from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Winter can be a tricky time for those suffering from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, but there are steps you can take to help. It's quite a common health problem and it's important to appreciate that there are some fairly simple remedies that might help. Working through the low feeling and arriving at a more enjoyable place is definitely worth the journey. The first few months of the year offer the perfect time to contemplate new beginnings and a fresh approach to life…

festive food a christmas muffin with sweet icing and chocolate base is unhealthy food

Christmas muffin anyone? Most of us start off a fresh year at a disadvantage. We've generally eaten too many sweet and sugary thiings over the festive season and, let's face it, cold weather makes most people eat more. Not to mention drinking. It's a comfort thing. 

The winter break is also about socialising, family values and having a holiday from work (but not everybody, of course). But those who are lucky enough to have time off work can actually find that it's all a bit of a strain. Many people feel pretty lousy during the so called festive season.  Christmas fayre is inevitably all around but it really is a good idea to moderate your intake of certain food and drink.

sweets and chocolates at christmas make you fat and they play havoc with your emotions

Losing the plot

Too many sweet things will upset your balance of mind and body. That doesn't help you feel good. It can easily trigger SAD to lower your mood.

Help yourself to feel better by feeding your body with a balanced diet coupled with exercise. For many people, this involves signing up to a gym and pounding the treadmill. using a treadmill in a gym in order to keep fit at Christmas when we eat too much sugary food

Inspirational? Not really, but a treadmill is better than nothing For January and February, at least, these temporarily-dedicated keep-fit enthusiasts will head straight to the gym in any spare time slot. Indoor exercise during a time of darkness is better than no exercise at all, but it doesn’t help those suffering from the lack of natural light. This affects all of us to a greater or lesser degree, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very well named.  You might not even know that you are experiencing SAD, merely accepting that your low mood and rather gloomy outlook is normal during winter.

a depressed man in bed during winter suffering from lack of light and sunshine

Many people feel depressed during winter. The lack of light and exercise affects most of us.

Make yourself feel better - here's how to do it

Firstly...

Look at your diet and resolve to improve it. You don't necessarily need to eat less, just a better quality intake of nutrients.

fresh fruit pieces in bowls at christmas offer a healthy alternative to sweets

A fruit selection looks just as inviting as a bowl of sweets

Secondly...

Get outside during daylight as much as humanly possible. If you are working, just half an hour at lunchtime has a highly beneficial effect. Walk briskly to the park or the countryside and put away your digital devices to allow your eyes to feast on greenery.  Being outdoors has been shown to improve both physical and mental health.

exercising outdoors in the fresh air can make you feel good and keeps away depression

Even looking at this person exercising outside makes you feel better! Whatever the weather, get outside for as long as possible every day. Scientists have found that walking in nature helps to promote better memory. It also lowers the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone marker. In addition, being outdoors in the countryside or at least near some trees, relieves mental fatigue and can give a psychological boost which manifests itself as a physical improvement in wellbeing. ‘Green exercise’, as it is known, is now prescribed alongside formal treatment for major depression and can often be used in place of chemical remedies for those suffering from milder problems. In fact, it is said that even 5 minutes exercising in the countryside boosts mental health. Trees and a wood with sun filtering through the branches making you want to walk and exercise

Who could resist walking through these trees in the sunlight?

Thirdly...

Invest some time in the garden, there's always something that needs doing. Gardens are great places for those dealing with SAD. There are jobs to be done, despite the season. Spend an hour or so immersed in your plot and see how you feel – the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. If you haven't got a garden of your own, offer to garden on someone else's plot. ‍There is a limit to the type of tasks you can undertake due to mud and wet ground. But sweeping paths, pruning overhanging bushes and general tidying is always possible.

gardening in winter is good for you especially if you suffer from SAD

Once you start gardening, you will feel better. Almost guaranteed!

Next...

Got some spare time? Helping other people makes you feel good. Maybe you could do some shopping for a neighbour, invite them over for a cup of afternoon tea or offer to do some DIY for them. Donating money to worthy causes also makes you feel good. Many people say that you always get back more than you give away, in one form or another. Giving things away makes you rich. old man walking down the street looking lonely

Helping other people boosts your own happiness. It's a win-win situation.

Finally...

Make some plans for the very near future. Don't allow yourself to stagnate. Work out a schedule of achievable goals and stick to them. Even if it's simply cleaning the oven or clearing out a cupboard, it boosts the mind.

ways to boost your mood includes cleaning the house or the oven or clearing out a cupboard. Lady with cleaning materials

Simple, but effective. Even cleaning a room or clearing a cupboard can help to make you feel good.  

Here’s some January garden tasks in which to immerse the soul:

blue secateurs from RHS Burgon & Ball would make a great Christmas gift

These smart secateurs would make a rather stylish gift.

  • Prune apple and pear trees.
  • Prune blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry bushes.
  • Plant trees and shrubs – bareroot plants are generally available until the main growing season commences.
  • Feed the birds and remember to enjoy watching them visit the feast that you have provided.
  • a bird table loaded with fat balls and bird seed attracts many different types of birds.
  • Scrub your patios and paths in order to remove potentially slippery patches. You could use a jet washer but beware of blasting out the mortar between the paving.
  • Look at the winter structure of your garden. Does it fill you with joy? You might want to add some shapely evergreens and shrubs with vibrant winter stem colour. The shrubby Cornus (dogwood), rather than the flowering type, provides one of the best winter experiences. Prune back every March/April in order to achieve the best stem colour.

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' has bright yellow, orange and red stem colour for the winter garden

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' (above) has the most wonderful stem colour in winter.