Seasonal Affective Disorder
Did you know that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been proven in a number of recent studies to not exist. Many people attribute the cold weather and lack of sunlight to their low moods during the winter. Dr LoBello et al in their recent study published by the Association of Psychological Science in the USA, suggested that being depressed in the winter months is not evidence that someone is depressed due to winter.
So why do many people get the ‘winter blues’ some of you will be thinking? Having a low mood in winter is nothing to do with the weather or any other external factor. It’s related to our beliefs, how in control we feel in our lives and what we think of ourselves. Someone who felt really in control of their life, had great coping skills to manage difficult situations, had high self-esteem and had the ability to challenge any unhelpful beliefs wouldn’t feel depressed in the winter.
Here are some tips to help us to feel happier during the winter months:
Realise that no external factors such as the weather or other people are causing us to feel low. If we recognise we are doing it to ourselves, we can do something about it.
Find some regular exercise you enjoy: walking, running, dancing, football etc. Regular exercise has been proven to have significant positive impact on our psychological well -being. Exercise is a really powerful way to lift the mood. It gives us a feeling of calm and well-being, releases endorphins that energise us and give us that feel good factor.
Set yourself some goals and plan different activities. It’s always good to have things to look forward to: days out, catching up with friends, going on holiday.
Get out the house each day. You may find it cold or raining, but if you have some warm waterproof clothes, you will be prepared for anything! If there is a little reward of a cup of tea and cake in a café at the end of it even better!
Challenge any unhelpful beliefs you have, for example about the weather. These beliefs are not real; they are only how you see things. If they are unhelpful, bin them and replace them with some more helpful thoughts and beliefs that will help you feel more positive and in control.
Remember to write down your positives each day and think of all the things you have achieved, not beat yourself up about all the things you haven’t done. See my tips of the month for September.