Are you feeling S.A.D. about the darkness?

Did anyone else notice how a couple of weeks ago, someone suddenly started turning the sun on later and later in the morning. AND started turning it off earlier and earlier in the evening? The horror! It happens every year but yet it always shocks and surprises me. My head expects it to happen gradually. But it doesn’t. In a matter of days, I will go from admiring my garden whilst washing-up after dinner to realising my kitchen window needs a polish as I stare at my blurry-reflection on a pitch-black background. I actually love autumn, but I really miss the light.

autumn-sunshine

Beep, beep, beep…

I have found mornings very challenging over the last few weeks. I get up at 6am on work days and 6:30am on the rest. I can confirm there is no daylight bleeding round the edges of our blackout curtains at those times. I need darkness to sleep but that small amount of light helped me wake-up. The last fortnight I’ve felt groggy and sluggish when I’ve ‘woken’. It’s not just me that has felt the effects. Little H has been harder to wake, especially on nursery days where we have to get her up at 6:35am. Her mood is a little more volatile as well. Some of it is (I think) a development phase. But I’m certain sure she’s also missing the morning sun to help her wake. And she’s missing playing in the evening sun on our garden when she gets in from nursery.

daylight

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Lack of light is proven to have an effect on our energy and mental health. I’m sure most of you have heard of S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder. S.A.D. is serious condition which is also referred to as ‘winter depression’. In recent reading I’ve done around Danish and Scandinavian culture, it frequently gets mentioned that the populations in Nordic countries are very prone to suffer from S.A.D. because of the short winter days. Now I’m not claiming to suffer from this illness, but I do find myself exhibiting some of the symptoms. They sneak-up on me like the darkness. But once I spot them, I try to take defensive action!

Trying to keep the mood up

Natural light: Getting outside during the daylight hours, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, is vital for me. I have hectic days at work with no time for a break so it’s easy for me to only leave the building for at ‘home time’. But my mood is much more buoyant on my days with Little H and we go outdoors more. I am now trying to nip outside to see the sky (and the sun if it’s there) for a few minutes when I’m at work.

Sleep: Going to bed efficiently becomes more crucial for me in winter. It’s well known that people need more sleep in the winter; Humans used to live seasonally and work long days in summer and shorter days in winter. Nowadays we all work the same all year round (or even the reverse and putting in more desk time when there is nothing to do outside!). For me, that messes with my body clock. I can cope of less sleep in summer but in winter it grinds me down quickly. We’ve slipped into bad habits recently but I need to get that back in check – 10pm = upstairs-to-bed time!

Colour: I’m a massive plant lover. Through the autumn and winter months I always keep as many colourful or flowering plants in / around the house as I can. I also buy cut flowers for indoors. Right now I’m embracing the trend for ‘mums’ (chrysanthemums) to give me some autumn colour.

flowers

Indoor lighting: Finding the right light in the house is also key. Sure, I like the dim, cozy lamp light when watching TV or listening to music in the evening. But if I spend an entire evening in that type of lighting I go crazy and feel really claustrophobic. So in the kitchen and the study we have daylight bulbs.

Exercise: Scheduled exercise becomes mandatory! During the spring and summer I am out walking and playing with H all of the time. But as the weather turns, it’s a lot more effort to tog-up and go out. H runs around the house the rest of the day but I find myself sitting more. A dose of exercise (HIIT, cycling, erging or yoga) just give me an endorphin boost and the lift in mood follows!

exercising

• We eat fairly healthy food, but I try to keep an extra focus on it over winter. I’m more naturally inclined to fresh salads and fruit in summer. In the winter it’s easy to be drawn towards stodgy food, and a bit of stodge does no harm. But too much and it makes me feel sluggish.

What do you do to keep your mood up during the darker autumn and winter months?

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29 comments On Are you feeling S.A.D. about the darkness?

  • The one thing I love about it getting darker earlier it that it is alot easier to get the kids to sleep! Apart from that as you say it’s harder to get out and about and exercise but this year I am determined to keep up running!! #KCACOLS

    • Yes, you’re right on that front. Bed time is a LOT easier now. Hope you keep up the running. Sometimes it’s nice in the dark because you can be alone with your thoughts!

  • Yes – I’m in total denial about the shorter days. I agree that getting out and about it great, especially when the autumn sunshine is still quite nice and bright. Urgh. Hate the off season! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday.

  • I have suffered from SAD for about 8 years now and can feel it creeping up on me this week. I have just thought about the colour tip that you shared in your post! I bought some winter flowering pansies for the garden and they really brighten it up. This was really useful for me. Thank you #KCACOLS
    Sharon Parry recently posted…Top 5 food hygiene tips for freshersMy Profile

    • I’m so pleased to hear that one my tips has improved things a little for you. Suffering full blown SAD must be really tough so any little thing will hopefully help! Thanks for reading and commenting x

  • I’ve suffered from ASD for the last few years; the best thing I ever did was buying a SAD lamp from Maplin. It’s brilliant. #KCACOLS

    • Yes I’ve considered buying one myself. My friend had one at uni and I remember it did help. But back then they cost a fortune. Thanks for the tip (and for commenting)!

  • I suffer with S.A.D and have a light box which does help a little. I crave the sunlight through autumn and winter and am constantly tired and unwell. I wish we could jet off to somewhere hot and sunny for a quick re-charge but with four children that won’t be happening any time soon, I will try these tips though! #MarvMondays
    five little doves recently posted…Introducing “After School Club”…My Profile

    • My tips might not help much if you suffer from S.A.D. quite significantly. But anything is worth a try! Hopefully one day soon you’ll win the lottery so you can have a summer holiday home and entourage to carry the kids luggage! Thanks for reading and commenting x

  • I agree that getting out of the house helps. Some autumn days are simply perfect, the sun and the colours around are enough to make me very happy! I love autumn – there is so much to look forward to and then there is christmas. It is February that I struggle with! #KCACOLS

  • I’ve heard of SAD a few times before. I can see how it can effect some people. Exercise is definitely an issue in the winter, we have a dog so we all would daily anyway but in the summer we are out a lot more. I am actually a huge fan of the winter so embrace it fully. I love the rain, snow and cold. I like thick coats and jumpers. I do focus on these things to keep my mood up, it is easier to feel low in the darker winter days.
    #KCACOLS
    Kirsty – Winnettes recently posted…Almond and Chia Maple GranolaMy Profile

    • Sounds like you know the tricks to keep you happy which is great. I love the autumn and parts of winter. But the lack of light does get to me. It’s so much better on the days I’m at home with H because I can get outside more easily than office days. Thanks for reading and commenting x

  • I left the UK two years ago and have found the long winter is not missed! It gets darker early here in Arizona but we don’t get the endless grey… it’s enough to bring anyone down. Totally agree with exercise, it’s so healthy for the mind! #FamilyFun

  • Oh I totally agree that this is an illness people suffer from. I believe myself and the OH really struggle come the winter months. The dark short days are a real struggle and doubtlessly effect our mood. We do normally try and have a winter sun holiday to break it up a bit which has seemed to help but of course this isn’t always possible. We did buy some incredibly bright lights for our kitchen too and yes I absolutely make sure we get out at least once a day – this kids go crazy otherwise. I have never really though about the colour aspect but that’s such a good idea and I bet it really helps and is uplifting n
    To have some bright colours around – will be doing this this winter. Thank you for sharing and linking with #familyfun xx

    • Yes I need colour to remind me that things still live and grow and in winter. As a gardener I understand the value of the seasons for my plants but I miss their vibrancy. Even my indoors ones slow their growth. So I do whatever I can to get some life back into the house and garden. Hope it helps you too! Thanks for your lovely comment x

  • I do suffer from S.A.D. and need to take medication for it, I also try and take vitamin D over the winter and I have 2 S.A.D. lights. I spend as much time in the sun as possible but still get very gloomy on grey days.

    • Taking vitamin D is a very good shout actually. My vitamin has a supplement but I don’t know if I could take extra! Hope you have as good a winter as possible! Thanks for commenting x

  • Definately getting outside is important. My bestie used to suffer with SAD and it always took most of the winter for her to realise what was happening. I used to persuade her out of her room for a walk to help. Thanks for linking up to #familyfun.
    Karen : TwoTinyHands recently posted…Wearing my Baby – My StoryMy Profile

    • Well done for encouraging her outside. It’s so easy to just hide indoors but that’s what ultimately gives you sniffles and makes you feel disconnected from nature! Thanks for your comment x

  • These are some GREAT tips for me, as I have just switched over to a third shift sleeping schedule. I’m definitely feeling the blues, and having trouble finding the motivation to do much of anything. I think getting some exercise in would be a great help. Thanks for sharing! <3
    Savannah recently posted…5 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune SystemMy Profile

    • Thanks, they are just based on experience but one of them usually picks up my mood when I feel low. Hope the exercise helps for you as you adjust to your new schedule. Thanks for reading and commenting x

  • Some good ideas, my dad and I are both less happy in the winter.. need lots of natural light when we can. #kcacols

  • Great post. I think so many people suffer from and are affected by SAD without even realising it. Lots of great and helpful tips here that I’ll definitely be trying.
    My Petit Canard recently posted…Turn Nappies into Rewards and Savings with Pampers!My Profile

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About Me

Hello, I'm Angela. I'm Mum to two small people (3 & 0). I'm a Techie, Gardener, cake lover and tea addict. I also have far too many opinions...hence the blog. You can read more about me here. You can also follow me on Twitter so you never miss a post. Hope you enjoy reading!

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