Seasonal Affective Disorder and similar

I don't know about everyone else, but for me, here in London, the daylight saving time had me more confused than any other year! I just couldn't adjust to the new times... I'd wake up the same time as I previously had, as that was what my body clock had gotten used to, so I gained no advantage to the time change. Plus I ended up finding myself ready for bed much earlier. A friend said he felt he was living in some parts of Norway or Alaska where it is dark 6 months a year, the disappearance of the bright sun at the same time did not help!

Two weeks on and my body has adjusted more, I even had a little lie-in today, BUT now, as of a couple of days ago (note, it was dark and rainy) , I have noticed how my psyche is not as happy as it was just a couple weeks back and then I had an 'aha' moment - of  course! The days are much shorter and that has for many, many years depressed me.

I have never been diagnosed as having SAD but these are the symptoms according to :

Seasonal Affective Disorder – How do i know if I’ve got it?

An example of SAD Symptoms include:
  • Lethargy, lacking in energy, unable to carry out a normal routine
  • Sleep problems, finding it hard to stay awake during the day, but having disturbed nights
  • Loss of libido, not interested in physical contact
  • Anxiety, inability to cope
  • Social problems, irritability, not wanting to see people
  • Depression, feelings of gloom and despondency for no apparent reason
  • Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, leading to weight gain
It took me years to recognise the shorter days affected me so much as they crept in- usually by end of September/beginning of October I was affected and pretty depressed and low by Christmas. A friend once pointed out to me that I was almost always anxious around Christmas time. Once I realised, I tried a few things, even SAD lights and even took them to the dark office I used to work in - I looked like some alien at my desk, but I wouldn't have cared if it had worked, but all it did was give me headaches! 

Since then, I have thankfully found ways to make the Autumn/Winter pass by easier and depression-free, and most of this is due to having a sun holiday. However, having had a good summer in London a couple of years ago and then life just getting busy this last year, I never had the chance for a holiday and didn't think anything of it, until today. 

Note to self:

1. Go away on a sun holiday at least once a year and preferably by August or in September. Although, I went one year after already suffering, in October and another year in November, it not only took my depression away but kept it away for the next year too!

So now here I am, in the middle of it, no chance of jumping on a plane,  unprepared and already falling so I've decided to take some action. This may not work for everyone. We are all different, have different nervous systems and are fighting different battles. But I know for me, the following will help, so I started taking action today. If you like, try them too and see what happens. 


The mornings and the day:

1. The mornings: I don't have to get up until 8.30am (I know! Lucky me :)) BUT I will start waking up properly (as in getting out of bed) at 7.00-7.20 as I will get optimal advantage of the light for a while, as sunrise was 07.12 today in London. 

2. No matter what the weather, dress appropriately and get outside! Go for a walk - and don't just go for a walk and look at the pavement! Look at your surroundings, especially the empty spaces between the buildings, look at the trees, the sky, take in the light, take in the day. (do this in the morning before work and in the mornings and lunch time when not working)

3. Eat a healthy and full breakfast to keep you going through the day. Eat porridge ( I love adding cooked muesli, berries and bananas to my porridge), baked English Breakfasts, scrambled eggs on toast, kedgeree and other nourishing foods. *Snack on fruit and nuts.

4. Drink lots of water throughout the day

5. I only work 3.5 days a week in an office and don't get a full lunch break - but guess what, from tomorrow, I am not going to run, grab my sandwich and eat it in the office, I am going to get my sandwich and go sit on a bench outside, no matter what the weather, unless it's raining... and if it is raining I am going to sit at a café nearby that is surrounded by tall windows and really take in the day as I enjoy a hearty soup perhaps.

6. Wear Bright coloured clothes and make up! Get inventive- reds, pinks, purples, oranges, splashes of yellow. 

7. On my days off, go out and be outside most of the day. The paper work, the cleaning, the cooking, the errands, the appointments, the emails & phone calls, leave them all for after 16.00, as sunset at the moment is 16.16!!!!

So yes, I guess the above theme, if you haven't guessed it by now is GO OUTSIDE. Any outside will do, though of course, being surrounded by nature will have added benefits.

The afternoons and evenings:

1. Shop, Cook, Eat, Nurture - Do more on-line shopping to not waste precious day light in stores,  but of course enjoy shopping in the day too - but don't spend too much time doing it, unless you're shopping in markets! Cook nutritious foods. These can be mega comforting but don't have to be junk.
Limit fast food. Slow cook stews, soups, bake potatoes, make chilli, make lasagne, but make sure you add plenty of healthy ingredients in each. Today, for lunch I made baked salmon with kale, carrots and spinach on the side. I felt super strong and clean after! Tomorrow, I'm planning to make a healthy stew and serve with brown rice.

2. Meet up with friends over coffees/drinks/meals. Surround yourself with loved ones and have a fun, cosy, time. Play cards, charades, chess, backgammon, board games or just talk or chill.

3. Chat on the phone if you can't see people in person

4. Watch Netflix/Movies etc 

5. Go to the cinema (and theatre once in a while)

6. Visit galleries/museums/ exhibitions

7. Watch comedies!

8. Pamper yourself with bath products, face masks, hair masks,  foot and hand and body lotions, massages, whatever you like! Treat yourself to a pedicure. They don't have to be expensive if you are watching your money- ask a friend/family member or partner to massage your shoulders, or self massage, put salts in your bath, buy a 99p mud mask. Do some stretches or yoga. Self care doesn't have to be expensive if you don't want it to be.

6. READ!  Listen to the radio, or podcasts

7. Learn a language (or craft or instrument or anything!)

9. Go to the gym/do yoga/meditate/

10. Remember winter evening walks can be so soothing and exhilarating and fun!
11. Do something creative - whether that be drawing, colouring in, writing, etc.

12. Remember to stop eating at least a couple of hours before bed so your body can shut down for sleep and keep you up trying to digest your food rather than get a break! (and so that you're ready for the next day, fitter)

13. Get off your phone or computer for an hour before to make sure you get good quality sleep and not supressing your melatonin which 'blue light' does (so you sleep deeply and are energised for the following day)

14. Wear natural fibres to bed, get cosy and comfy- wear cottons, silks or satins, wear anything that comforts you and at times of feeling more anxious than others, wear calming colours such as soft blues and pale pinks.

15. Book that holiday! Even if it won't be asap, it will be on the horizon and help for limiting/erasing next year's effects.

I hope some of these tips will help some of you and if you have any tips, please do put them in the comments below. Also, it would be nice to see some pictures of your walks, so please put them in the comments below. I'd love to see that! 

Wishing everyone bright days ahead!

Raha xx

1 comment

  1. I am Taha, the founder of Zest & Zing Spices . Love the avocado pesto. We have a great vegan pesto. Would you be interested in trying it ?


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