Winter can be a really challenging season with long nights, short days and cold weather causing many people to feel down and low in mood.
Why does it happen?
The lack of sunlight through the winter months means that our bodies don’t absorb much Vitamin D. This important vitamin helps us sleep better, supports our immune system and even combats depression. Most people absorb enough sunlight during the summer months to see them through the year, but some people, especially those who are housebound, may benefit from a top-up through taking supplements in the winter.
Reduced sunlight can have more significant effects for some people including hormonal changes that can affect mood, sleep and appetite. These symptoms can be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Sometimes referred to as ‘winter depression’, it most often occurs in the winter and is thought to affect around 1 in 15 people. See your GP if you feel that you may be suffering from symptoms of SAD and need support.
What can we do to feel better?
Spending time around other people is a great way to help lift your mood. Ward off loneliness by maintaining your usual routine and keeping social commitments wherever possible.
A walk with friends or family can provide the mood-boosting benefits of both company and exercise in one go. Research by the charity MIND found that people who took part in outdoor activities, like walking and gardening, experienced increased self-esteem and improved mood. Getting out and about in the winter will also give your body a valuable boost of sunlight.
Another great way to minimise the negative effects of SAD is to ensure that you are as healthy as you possibly can be. Disabled Living's great blog on how to stay healthy this winter can give some useful tips on healthy eating, keeping your home warm, and the process of getting an NHS check.
Winter can certainly bring its challenges but being aware of your mood and making some small changes can help keep the blues away until the warmer weather and brighter days of spring return.