Top tips to battle Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

As days get shorter, darker and colder, many of us slip into a seasonal slump. We look at the most effective methods to fight off the blues.

 Seasonal Affective Disorder products

by Ellen Kinsey |

During the shorter and darker days, it is tricky to spend time outside due to regular office hours and limited sunlight. Sunlight is one of the fundamental pillars of health - so there is no wonder we get the blues during the colder months.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, affects 1 in 3 Brits – and this year, doctors are expecting this figure to rise. “I think we, as a society, need to be more mindful of our mental wellbeing this year; we’ve been through an incredibly trying period,” says Dr Lauren Hamilton, GP and cosmetic doctor at Victor & Garth.

According to the NHS, the shortage of sunlight during the autumn and winter can stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from working correctly. This may increase the production of melatonin – a hormone that makes you feel sleepy which decreases the production of serotonin – a hormone that affects your mood, appetite, sleep and circadian rhythm.

What exactly is SAD?

Dr Miriam Adebibe and Dr Lauren Hamilton, cosmetic doctors at aesthetics clinic Victor & Garth, explain what SAD means and share tips on how to beat the winter blues.

“Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterized by depressive symptoms that occur at a specific time of year,” explains Dr Miriam, “Typically this happens in autumn and winter and resolves once the season changes to spring or summer.”

“Possible risk factors include family history, hormones, living at a more northern latitude and age (young adults being more susceptible),” adds Dr Lauren.

They suggest that light therapy, exercise, vitamins, sleep and stress play major factors in combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder.

With that in mind, let's take a look at what you can do to ward off the winter blues.

7 ways to tackle SAD this winter

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Light therapy

One of the first ways we can tackle SAD is by using a light therapy lamp. SAD lamps are medically certified for alleviating the symptoms of Seasonal Effective Disorder, and individuals who use light therapy routinely often see an improvement within one to two weeks.

Spending one hour a day in front of a daylight lamp for a week can relieve the symptoms associated with winter depression, including sleep disorders, extreme fatigue, insomnia and over-eating.

Beurer TL45 Perfect Day Daylight Table Lamp

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Beurer TL45 Perfect Day Daylight Table Lamp

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This is not just a SAD light - this lamp also has active and relax settings. It contains three features - the third being therapy. The Beurer TL45 is easy to use and small enough to take on the go with you.

Lumie Vitamin L - Slim Light Box

Lumie Vitamin L - Slim Light Box for Effective SAD Light Therapy
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The Lumie Vitamin L is a slim light therapy solution, which you can take with you to improve mood, energy and focus at home or at work.

Philips Wake-up Light HF3520 Clock

Philips Wake-up Light HF3520 Clock
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The Philips Wake-Up Light sunrise sunset lamp runs at a fixed 30-minutes. There are five natural wake-up sounds and 20 light intensities, an FM radio, plus an adjustable colour spectrum to give you access to warmer if you want to try red light therapy.

Exercise and movement

If you can't face going to the gym when it is raining and dark, try an online class. The endorphins released will set you up for the day, and you'll notice as the stress hormones reduce and your anxiety decrease.

Practises like yoga can help you to feel calmer. We recommend following a session like Yoga With Adriene, one of the most well-known yoga YouTube channels.

By investing in a mat you will be more likely to get some exercise in and it will be a good foundation for yoga, pilates, HIT or breathwork.

Stephen Buckley, head of information at mental health charity Mind, states that anyone working from home and experiencing SAD symptoms should “take time to get outside as much as possible.” Even it is just a quick lap around the park with your dog or walking to the shop - it is important to get moving and spend some time in the fresh air.

Toplus Yoga Mat

TOPLUS Yoga Mat
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This sustainable, affordable and double-layer exercise mat not only looks great but also provides fantastic grip for sweaty soles and palms and excellent cushioning for yoga.

Ewedoos Yoga Pants

Ewedoos Yoga Pants for Women with Pockets
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With this four-way stretchy fabric material, you can squat and stretch in this pair of leggings. The material is lightweight and breathable and so comfy, you'll never want to take them off. Plus, they have pockets for your phone.

Meditation and mindfulness practises

It is so important to pause and listen to our mind and body. We sometimes push ourselves too hard until we reach burnout or become overwhelmed with stress. Practising daily meditation is a great way to reconnect with the mind and body.

Look to reduce stress levels as it goes without saying that stress can have a major impact on your mental and physical health.

Meditation and mindfulness apps such as Calm and Headspace have guided meditations that are easy to follow and will help bring some calm into your day.

Journaling is a great way to channel your emotions and release feelings of sadness, unease or anxiety. There are many mindful journals on the market - here are some products that will help you to stay grounded and calm.

Melo - Handheld Breathing Device

Melo - Handheld Breathing Device
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This haptic and visual breathing aid has been designed to help with anxiety, stress and simply help to realign during the day. The small portable device is easy to use and guides you through three breathing exercises so you can find some calm during stressful times.

Mal Paper Daily Checkin Journal

wellness journal
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Mu00e5l Paper

Journalling is a fantastic way to start and end your day. It allows you to get on paper goals and tasks you would like to achieve, as well as write down affirmations and daily gratitudes. Each page of this check-in journal have prompts to make it easier. The first three lines are to write down any feelings or thoughts you first have in the morning. Then there is a section where you can list your tasks, goals or general thoughts you want to release.

Vitamins

Most people in the UK are vitamin D deficient, so we should all be supplementing. At least 40% of us are also deficient in vitamin B21. Not only does vitamin B benefit the body, but it also increases mood, energy, metabolism and anxiety.

Haliborange Adult Vegan Vitamin D3

Haliborange Adult Vegan Vitamin D3

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Vitamin D is essential for supporting your immune system and for many functions in the body. We cannot absorb as much Vitamin D from the sun during the colder and darker months, so supplements are essential.

Bioactive Liquid Vitamin B12

Bioactive Liquid Vitamin B12
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The Bioactive B12 liquid supplement is highly absorbable and is to be taken sublingually (under the tongue and held for 20-30 seconds). This will allow it to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

Sleep

Consistently high levels of cortisol can cause SAD to develop. Sleep is vital as when we are asleep, the body’s cortisol levels drop, which allows the body to regenerate. Try to establish a good night-time ritual to encourage proper shut-eye.

Strive to give yourself more time for a bedtime routine. Avoid watching Netflix or scrolling through Instagram, as the blue light can keep you awake for longer. Listen to a podcast or audiobook, have a nighttime tea, put on a calming scented candle or spray your pillow with some pillow mist to allow your body and mind to wind down.

If you are a light sleeper consider putting on an eye mask as it will block out any light and create a routine for you in the evening so your mind knows it is time to sleep.

Tisserand Aromatherapy Sleep Better Pillow Mist

Tisserand Aromatherapy Sleep Better Pillow Mist
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Amazon

Pillow sprays are a great way to help you wind down for bed. This award-winning 100 per cent natural pillow spray is a blend of jasmine, sandalwood and lavender essential oils that will bring you a sense of calm when you sleep.

'End of the Day' set Echor trio

'End of the Day' set Echor trio

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Let your stress and anxiety drift away with this 'End of the Day' set from Echor. It includes their Pillow Spray, 60+ hour burn time pure natural Soy Wax Candle and a super comfortable Total Blackout Eye Mask.

Earths Secretu2019s Sleep Complex

Earth Secret Sleep Supplement

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This sleep supplement is made with five nautral ingredients such as soothing lavender and chamomile to give you the rest when you need it most. Plus, natural tryptophan and melatonin will help improve the duration and quality of your sleep.

John Lewis & Partners Specialist Synthetic Weighted Blanket

John Lewis & Partners Specialist Synthetic Weighted Blanket

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Weighted blankets not only keep us warm and snug but give us the sensation of being hugged or cuddled. This helps combat SAD by releasing chemicals such as serotonin and melatonin – both essential for sleep and general wellbeing.

Memory Foam Pillow for neck pain with Silk Eye Mask

Memory Foam Pillow for neck pain with Silk Eye Mask
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An orthopaedic neck pillow is designed as a neck support pillow for pain that helps to relax the cervical spine and relieve pain in your body. This pillow is made of high-quality memory foam that supports your head, neck and shoulder for maximum comfort. When we work all day or carry stress in our body, we will feel tense, making us feel uncomfortable and agitated. Getting a good night sleep will ensure you have an excellent start to the day.

DIRTEA Mushroom Cacao Super Blend 150g

DIRTEA Mushroom Cacao Super Blend 150g

There is nothing more soothing than a cup of hot chocolate in the evening, but sometimes all that sugar can give you the opposite effect of what you intended. Enter the DIRTEA Mushroom Cacao Super Blend. It has all the properties that improve your quality of sleep while helping to detox the liver and relieve stress. This healthy and decadent blend of organic raw Cacao and Reishi and Ashwagandha mushroom will naturally boost immunity and help you to unwind in the evening rather than a sugar crash.

Pukka Night Time Tea 20 Tea Bags

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With herbs such as oat flower, lavender and lime flower this Pukka Night Time tea is a unique blend to help you relax. It is naturally caffeine-free, 100 per cent organically grown and ethically sourced with plastic-free tea bags.

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If you or anyone you know are exercising any SAD symptoms reach out and talk to someone

Whether it’s a friend or a healthcare professional, hearing your thoughts out loud can be very helpful and comforting. There should be no shame in seeking help.

If you are looking for some guidance or would like to refer a family member or friend to a professional then Mind's helplines provide information and support by phone and email.

Local Minds offer face-to-face services across England and Wales. These services include talking therapies, peer support and advocacy.

Or reach out on Side by Side a supportive online community for anyone experiencing mental health struggles.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us