Staying happy when the temperature drops: 5 hacks to help SAD sufferers stay positive during the winter months
This doesn’t necessarily mean an All-American Thanksgiving. Deliberately thinking positively throughout the year, especially when it gets colder, could actually change your thought patterns. It’s time to take stock, reflect on the past year and give thanks for all the experiences and wonderful people you’ve met. Reaching out and thanking people personally is a great way to cement the positive feelings and pass them along. Try it!
I’ve only learned this one relatively recently. It’s so easy to stay warm and snuggly under the covers when it’s cold and grey outside. However, to keep your mood raised its important to get vitamin D and sunlight exposure, which you’ll get a lot more of outside, even if it’s overcast. Research has also shown that negative ions in the air can have a positive effect on your mood – When SAD patients were exposed to high levels of negative ions for 30 minutes, their depression eased after just a few weeks. These can be found in high concentration at the seashore, which is another great excuse to literally blow out the cobwebs, and go for a blustery walk along the coast. If you don’t live by the sea, don’t fear. Just getting outside and moving for half an hour will almost certainly raise your mood, and make you appreciate the warmth and cosiness of your home when you get back!
A winter walk 🙂
If you can do this outside then all the better – maybe some kind of practical outdoor volunteering could be the perfect way to get up, get out and get moving (and give back to your local community and meet some new people into the bargain!) If you’re in the UK and have some time to spare, TCV have lots of local volunteering schemes to learn new skills in conservation, which is also a great excuse to get into nature and explore your local area.
If you don’t have the time for that, or the money for an expensive gym membership, don’t panic! Even going for a wintry walk, jog, or doing a half hour yoga video on youtube will bring huge benefits to your self-esteem and overall health. I love Yoga with Adriene – she even has a few 30-day challenges you could try out!
Did you know that the Danish are the happiest nation in the world? There are various theories about why – from their lack of materialism, to their saunas – and yet they experience little sunlight and freezing temperatures in the winter. My theory is that the attitude/concept of hygge has something to do with it. I have written about this before so I won’t go on about it, but I think it’s an important point. The less we think of winter as a harsh time, and the more we take in the positive cosy moments, the happier we’ll feel about it. So take a leaf out of the Dane’s book and make the most of the lengthening evenings with candles, fires, nice shared meals with friends and family, cuddles with pets, soft jumpers and blankets, or a nice glass of mulled wine 🙂
My cat Carmel getting cosy at Christmas time
No I don’t mean getting high or drunk. I’m talking about light-boxes! They used to be pretty expensive but they are getting cheaper. You can even get an alarm clock that gradually lights up, getting your brain adjusted to the light gradually and naturally. This can make it easier to get out of bed in the morning when it’s still dark outside. Getting some light like this first thing in the morning can be really beneficial even if you don’t have full-blown SAD. Try putting it on your breakfast table or have it on while you’re getting ready for work – especially if you’re commuting to and from work in the dark, a bit of real light can make a huge difference, and even if you’re not, sunlight through a window or your car windscreen probably won’t be enough, so get outside and feel the sun on your face!