It’s no secret that the change of seasons can massively impact your mental health. So, how can you keep on top of your mental health this winter?
This change in seasons can affect different areas. However, the most common thing that some people experience are bouts of ‘seasonal depression’ or, to the condition its proper name, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD is a type of depression that people tend to experience during certain seasons of the year, particularly Winter. During these periods people with SAD tend to experience the typical symptoms of depression such as lack of energy, difficulty concentrate, wanting to be alone, problems sleeping or sleeping more than usual, feeling sad/low, changes in your appetite.
Keeping on Top of Your Mental Health
There are various ways that you can keep on top of your mental health in the winter months. Here are just a few of them.
Make the Most of Natural Light
Sunlight is key for good mental health at any time of the year as it is this that triggers the Melanopsin receptors in your eyes which then triggers necessary Serotonin release within the brain. Serotonin is sometimes called the ‘happy chemical’ as it contributes to wellbeing and happiness, which is why it is
So, with the winter months being naturally darker, you are being exposed to less sunlight, meaning your brain is releasing less Serotonin. Try being out in the natural sunlight as much as possible, or, perhaps consider light therapy or a SAD lightbox.
Speak to Someone
If you are feeling fine most o the year but notice yourself suffering from these bouts of depression, consider talking to your doctor as they will be able to recommend either some lifestyle changes, a course of antidepressants or therapy.
You can do this by speaking to your local GP who can either diagnose you or refer you to a specialist if they think it is necessary. However, on the NHS standard, consultant-led mental health services have an 18-week maximum waiting time.
So, you might want to consider investing in private health insurance if you know or suspect you suffer from SAD or any other mental (or physical) health problems. This way, you will have access to fast track appointments with a specialist for whatever you need once you have an open referral from a GP.
Be More Sociable
Connecting with other people has a lot of benefits for your mental health as talking to people can help you feel more relaxed and like a weight has been lifted. So, try spending some time with your friend or family, particularly around the festive season as this many help lift your mood. Christmas is a great time to b more sociable with your peers, family and even colleagues. With so many fun events and parties, there is ample opportunity to get out there and be sociable.
If you don’t feel like being around the people you know, but you feel up to a bit of social interaction why not spend a few hours volunteering for a homeless shelter or another charity of choice so you can interact with people from all walks of life and lend a hand?
Mental health is a vital part of our overall health and changes in the seasons can be a big part of that for some people. These simple tips might just be the helping hand you are looking for this winter.