I know that it’s not quite the end of August but the nights are drawing in and this week in the office we’ve been talking about having to put the lights on in the morning to get dressed and put make up on (obviously that’s just the girls, the boys won’t admit to make up usage but I have my suspicions!).
Every year, I have a sense of dread about the coming season and the gloom that accompanies it. I’ve read a couple of blog posts recently about SAD and oncoming winter and it occured to me that I’ve spent time this month preparing myself for the onslaught (go me!). Although I’ve written about this before, I thought it might be a good time to go over the things that work for me and ask others for any tips they have before it gets really dark.
1) Wake up lamp.
This helps, no you don’t want to leap out of a cozy, warm bed into the cold full of the joys of spring but it makes getting up in the morning easier and helps with the transition to awake.
2) Sleeping Routine
This is one of the ways that I try and keep my migraines in check but it does help with SAD too when the urge to stay in bed for the entire weekend is upon me. Getting up around the same time every morning helps and if you do it all the time you’re body adjusts your bedtime to ensure that you get the right amount of sleep for you.
3) Eat well
It’s easy to say ‘eat better’ and leave it at that. Most people know what that means, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, not too processed. Easy right? Except we’ve talked about budget here before and in the winter when I’m tired, cold, hungry and sad, I just want to eat all the fat, all the sugar and everything else that is bad for me and then go to bed and sleep! I know what I should do but it’s harder in winter. It may be a poor excuse but it’s the truth as I live it so I need to find a way of making healthy choices about food when it’s hard. This is where menu planning and food prep helps. If I’ve shopped for what’s on the plan and I know what I’m going to eat each day and it’s easy to cook when I get home, I’m less likely to binge on food that doesn’t do me any good.
On that note, plan treats too. A cookie a day probably won’t kill you, put them in the freezer and take one out to defrost (this works much better now I don’t have a microwave to instantly defrost stuff!)
4) One drink might make me feel better, five won’t.
Go easy on the booze. It’s good effects don’t last long and I think that all alcohol is a depressant if you have too much of it. Follow the 2:2 rule. No more than 2 drinks a day and 2 days off a week.
I take a multi vitamin and a supplements for my joints (Jointassure) and the migraines (CoQ10, magnesium and B2). I know that my diet should cover it but I’m not convinced and although I’ve heard the arguments against taking them, I notice the difference when I take them and I notice that difference more in the winter, if it’s a placebo so be it.
6) Knowing my limits and being honest
I love my friends, when I’m feeling down, they cheer me up so I want to see them. However, the other side of that coin is that I really don’t have that much energy and I need to conserve it. I’ve got much better at saying no to everything because I know that I won’t be able to cope if I do everything. None of the people in my life will be offended if I tell them I can’t see them, especially if I’m upfront about the SAD.
7) Exercise and get out in the daylight.
Go for a walk during lunchtime, you need as much light as you can get. Going to the gym a couple of times a week. These things affect mood and tired me out so my body and mind match!
I know it’s silly but when it’s really bad, I make a deal. So if it’s Saturday and I really want to stay in bed all day, I convince myself that if I get up and shower and have breakfast and life is really unbearable after that, then I can go back to bed. Once I’ve had coffee and showered, I might as well do some washing or read that book or check the blog or something and although life doesn’t instantly feel like it’s full of puppies or rainbows, I feel able to cope with it a little better.
9) It’s not forever
This one is the hardest because it feels like the way you feel is the way you ought to feel, like you deserve the depression and don’t deserve to be happy but the nicest thing about SAD, yes I try to be a fairly optimistic and positive person, is that it lasts for a season and then the sun comes out and you feel normal again. It’s hard to remember but if you can it helps with putting things in perspective.
Ok, other than a light lamp, what have I missed? Do any of you have SAD, what are your top tips?