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Raindrops on a windscreen

The mornings are gloomier, the days are shorter, and the weather is chillier. Seasonal changes can have a big impact on our mood, and it’s common to feel a bit out of sorts during the change of the seasons. If you’re noticing your mood changing with the season and it’s having an impact on your daily life – you might be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. It’s commonly known as ‘the winter blues’ or ‘winter depression’, but it can also affect people during the warmer months of the year. We’re not quite sure what exactly can cause SAD, but it is possible that it has something to do with the lack of sunlight in the later/earlier months of the year.

If you’re experiencing SAD, you might notice:

  • Your mood is low
  • You don’t feel like doing the stuff you used to enjoy
  • You feel irritable
  • You feel sleepier than usual, or as if you have no energy
  • Your sleeping pattern has changed (you’re sleeping for longer, or not enough)
  • Your appetite has changed (you’re eating more, or not enough)

These are just a few of the things that SAD can have an affect on, and your experience might be different to someone elses.

As SAD is a type of depression, it’s really important to get help if you think you might be experiencing SAD. Depression can affect people in many different ways, but you should always speak to your GP or someone you trust if you’re struggling. Take a look at our step-by-step guide to mental health support to find out more about how to get help for how you’re feeling. You can also find out more about what the process of getting mental health support can look like here.

There are also some different things you can try yourself, which might help with how you’re feeling.

Sunlight

It’s no secret that spending time in nature is good for our mental health, and getting that all-important natural sunlight can help to lift our mood.

Physical activity

If exercise is an option for you, it can help to boost your mood, boost self-esteem and give you opportunities to join groups and connect with others. It’s recommended that adults get 20 minutes of exercise a day, and this doesn’t always need to be a jog or sit-ups! You could take a walk on your lunchbreak, potter around the house, or even dance along to your favourite music for 20 minutes a day.

Managing stress

We know that managing stress can be difficult, and is often easier said than done. However, there are lots of small things you can do to help reduce your stress levels – whether they’re due to a mix of smaller pressures, one big thing, or even if there is no obvious cause. Take a look at our top 5 tips on how to stress less for more advice.

Eating well

It’s really important that we’re eating a healthy, balanced diet – as our physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. When we’re feeling low, it can be easy for our eating habits to change. We might eat more than usual or not as much. There are lots of useful resources and information on how to eat a balanced diet on the NHS website.

Talk

Don’t forget to talk to people you trust such as a loved one, a friend, a colleague, or your GP about how you’re feeling. If you are struggling, it’s okay and you don’t need to carry on alone. Talking about your problems can really help, and you might find that getting how you’re feeling off your chest is what you needed. You might feel that you need more support, and that’s okay too. Talking therapies can help you talk about how you’re feeling and find better ways to manage and cope. Find out more about our free and confidential NHS Talking Therapies.

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