I grew up in South Africa, meaning that the winters in England came as a massive shock to me. Every single year I battle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and last year was the easiest year for me by far. This year it is hitting me hard, so I thought I would share how I cope with SAD. My biggest struggle is how dark it is – I wake up when it is still dark and by the time 6pm rolls around I am so tired and ready for bed! Working from home running my blog alongside other side hustles definitely makes it easier – at least I don't have to go to work in the dark and get home in the dark.
Wake up easier with a sunrise alarm clock
If you are waking up in the dark and you are feeling sluggish, I can highly recommend getting a sunrise alarm clock. A sunrise alarm clock is exactly as it sounds – it simulates a sunrise, which helps you to wake up in the mornings despite the darkness outside. This simple little trick helps you to feel awake and rejuvenated, ready to get your day started. The Lumie Bodyclock Starter is a great sunrise alarm clock and I would wholeheartedly recommend it! I did purchase Aldi's version a few years ago, but it isn't a great sunrise alarm clock at all! The light is very artificial and doesn't work for me.
Book a holiday
This isn't a possibility for everyone, but I think that part of the reason I did so well last winter was because we had a holiday booked in February. We headed off for a cruise around the Bahamas and then a few nights in Disney World. Not only did it give me something to look forward to, it also helped me to dose up on sunlight and warm weather.
If you are at all able to book a holiday during the winter months then it really helps to combat seasonal affective disorder.
If I need something that will make me feel better within a day or two then I hit the vitamin D tablets. An entire year's supply costs less than £10 and after taking these for one or two days I find that my energy levels increase and I sleep better.
I like to move it move it
There's this misconception that fat people don't exercise, but I assure you that I do! I love Pokemon Go, meaning that walking is now my exercise of choice, although we also try to get to the gym a few times a week because I love swimming. Exercise is great for so many reasons! Often when I'm in a funk I go on a “Pokemon walk” and I come back refreshed and able to focus. Plus it helps me to sleep better at night.
There is a direct correlation to what I eat and how I feel. If I eat more fruit and vegetables then I feel a lot better than I do when I eat processed foods or foods high in sugar. Trust me, I know that when you are feeling low it is easy to turn to chocolate or highly processed foods. We try to have a fruit salad in the fridge at all times, so even when I feel really crap, there's something easy to grab that takes no effort.
An easy way to inject more fruit and vegetables in my diet is to have a smoothie for breakfast.
Having a routine
Having a routine is so important to me, not only because I work from home, but because it also tells me when to stop working and go and enjoy something else! It doesn't work every day – some days I just can't manage it, or I have so much that absolutely must get done that I'm still working until 10pm, but most of the time, it works.
Daylight lamp or light bulbs
Alongside a sunrise alarm clock, I also use a Daylight Therapy Lamp for at least 30 minutes a day. For a much cheaper solution costing you under £6, you could switch out a room’s light bulb for a daylight light bulb – use these in a room where you spend a lot of time with the light on and you will soon notice the effects. We have them in our living room, my office, Tony's office, our dining room, our bedroom and our library.
Getting outside in daylight
I've mentioned my Pokemon walks earlier, but even if I am not getting outside for the sake of exercising, it is really important that I get outside for some sunlight. Daylight lamps and bulbs are great, but nothing it as good as the real thing.
Being kinder to myself
Every single year I feel guilty because I can't do as much in winter, and this year I am letting go of that guilt. This happens to me every single winter and I do whatever I can to help, so I am allowing myself to spend more time relaxing! One of my favourite things to do in winter is to curl up on the sofa (blanket and Yankee candle are both mandatory) and watch some tv. It isn't the most productive rest I can have, but it definitely helps! I love watching reality TV on Hayu – you can even grab yourself a free trial by clicking here. I love lots of cosy activities in winter – visiting the cinema and snuggling with Tony (soppy!), curling up with a good book and just enjoying our new house.
Not only do I dose up on self-care, I also let myself off the hook. I accept that I can't achieve as much as I do in the summer months, and I put less pressure on myself. Having built up a passive income means that I can afford to take time away from work throughout the winter months.
All of these combined help me to cope with SAD. If you have any tips then I would love to hear them!