Tag Archives: self-care

How can I manage SAD symptoms? Part Four – lifestyle

Lifestyle. It’s a big, all-encompassing word, isn’t it? This final part of the series looks at ways you can jolly yourself along when you’re living with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or Winter Blues. These are just some of the lifestyle things I do that work for me. If you’ve just arrived on this site and want to find out more about the condition itself, a good primer is the ‘SAD basics – where to start‘ post. 🙂

To recap on the series, the first part covers how to manage SAD and Winter Blues with specialist SAD lights (light therapy). The second part covers dawn simulators and investing in light therapy. The third part looks at medication and talking therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). 

Daily lifestyle routines are really important!

Okay, I’m putting my hand up – I’m a routine person! Anyone with me? 🙂 From past experience, some of the best advice I can offer you is to try to establish strong daily lifestyle routines, especially in autumn and winter. You’ll find it so much easier to be consistent with your light therapy (and therefore feel better) if you can link it to something else that’s already embedded in your daily routine. 

I use my big light at home in the morning while I’m practising something called the Miracle Morning. This encompasses the physiotherapy I have to do each day and links everything together. Linking routines together helps make them a habit. I’ll do a separate post on the Miracle Morning later, but there’s a link there if you’re interested in looking it up now.

Get as much natural light as you can

If you can find yourself a routine to get some natural light each day too, all the better. Obviously it has to work around your current commitments, but getting out during daylight hours every day, no matter what the weather, is really going to help you.

Lifestyle is important in SAD: person walking in snow with dog in natural lightI know, I know – you probably don’t want to go out when it’s grey and raining! I’m the same, especially if I’ve no reason to go out. And sometimes, I don’t. This is a recent change for me; I used to force myself to go out. I’d beat myself up for being lazy for not wanting to. I have a conservatory bedroom now so some weekend days, if I’m content at home, I’ll operate from there and drink in the light.

However, when I didn’t have this natural light available at home, I would ask colleagues or a boyfriend to encourage me to get out and about. I find people are glad they can do something practical to help because you can feel helpless when someone’s going through a condition you don’t have experience of yourself.

When you’re at work, it’s tempting to stay at your desk for lunch on grey days isn’t it? If you can give yourself errands to run on your lunch break, that can help you get out. It also reduces your ‘to-do’ list in small increments without it being too overwhelming.

Diet

  • Don’t fight your urge to eat warming foods – they don’t have to be bad for you! I firmly believe the maxim ‘A little of what you fancy does you good’.
  • Eat little and often to avoid blood sugar crashes that will leave you feeling irritable and tired.
  • Try not to drink too much, too often – alcohol is a depressant, affects your sleep and leaves you tired the next day. These are often the very symptoms you’re trying to combat!

Exercise

  • Arrange to exercise with a friend – you’re less likely to skip it.
  • Keep your exercise goals realistic and be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage to do a session – be pleased about what you do manage to do.
  • Commit small when you’re struggling. Give yourself permission to only do 20 minutes at the gym or walk for just ten minutes.

Indulge yourself!

One of my favourite indulgences is curling up on the sofa under a blanket with a good book and hot chocolate! 

Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that get you through the day. A hot bath after a hard day. Listening to your favourite piece of music. Curling up with a book… be kind to yourself. You deserve it! 🙂 What are your favourite indulgences?

Lifestyle is the daily choices you make: treat yourself nicely and cosy up in a hat and scarf to feel goodYou can also kit yourself out with thick woolly gloves, lovely soft scarves, cosy hats and toasty socks. So, here I am with my waterproof jacket on too, feeling fine about going out in the wind and rain because I’m well wrapped up! Maybe you can up your cosiness and see how it changes how you feel?

Another thing to try is to do things that remind you of summer. Keep pampering yourself – use up that lovely sun oil spray, paint your nails a bright colour, wear skirts with woolly tights, bright floral tops with a cardi on top. Gentlemen – if you’re feeling a bit left out here, sorry! Maybe you can keep wearing lighter colours, using a lighter aftershave. Listen to music that reminds you of summer days. If you’re stuck for inspiration try this Spotify playlist of weather-inspired songs 🙂 What would you add?

Finally, I plan to cover diet and exercise in greater depth in other posts, so look out for these if you’re interested. 

So then… I love to hear your thoughts… What are your lifestyle tips for managing SAD? How do you persuade yourself to leave the house on a grey day? What support do you enlist from your family and friends?

Images:
Walk in the snow: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/walk-in-the-snow-1386838