As the dark mornings and early evenings continue, many people find it can become a bit depressing. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is said to affect around 2 million people in the UK and over 12 million in Northern Europe.
The causes of the winter blues, or SAD, are thought to be linked with the shorter days, and lack of sunshine. The dark makes us feel sleepy, and when the days are predominantly dark, it can be hard to feel active and awake, resulting in sleepiness and low energy levels.
So how can we shake off the winter blues? We thought we'd share the NHS' top 10 tips...
1. Keep active- as little as a one hour walk can help make you feel more awake and consequently happier.
2. Get outside- Since the lack of sunshine can affect our mood and cause SAD, make the most of the little sunlight and natural daylight that is on offer. When the cold weather puts you off, wrap up warm and enjoy some exercise at the same time.
3. Keep warm- Being cold makes you feel depressed, but keeping warm with warm clothes, food and drinks has been shown to reduce the winter blues by half. Once you feel cold it can take quite a while to warm up again, which can also make you feel unwell, while feeling warm and cosy can boost your mood and help fight those winter blues.
4. Eat healthily- Eating healthy food is likely to give you more energy, boost your mood and help prevent you from putting on weight, another factor which can contribute to the winter blues.
5. Light- If there's no natural light, you can get light therapy at home, by using a light box which gives out a very bright light.
6. Take up a new hobby- If you're stumped because your normal hobbies involve going outside, try something new, such as joining a singing group, or trying a new exercise class.
7. Socialise more- Especially if you don't get out much, spending time with friends and family members is a great way of boosting your spirits and helping you feel more positive.
8. If you feel serious effects of SAD then you can speak to your GP or get counselling which can also help.
9.There are also support groups for those suffering with SAD, and there is a dedicated charity- SADA with newsletters, help and support.
10. In extreme cases, medical help can be sought by talking to your GP.
In most cases, SAD isn't a serious thing and often isn't particularly noticeable, people might notice a lack in energy or feeling a bit down, while others may feel the effects more forcibly. It's well worth being aware of it though, and taking some of these tips on board through the winter months may help ensure you stay free from SAD.