Remaining positive when it’s grey outside, cold and miserable is not an easy thing to do. It’s not an easy thing to so especially when you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder like I do, and to be frank, like most people. Seasonal Affective Disorder is when you lose energy, have difficulty sleeping and generally feel rubbish during the winter months. All I want to do is stuff myself with pizza and then ‘sleep for England’!
When I lived in the states I only really suffered with it for three months. In comparison to how I feel in England and how I felt in America; it is much more intense here in England. I think it’s because the winter months last longer than three months. It seems as though the winter months last 9 months. And, for me… that’s way too long to be grumpy. It is very natural for your body to want lots of food and lots of sleep in the winter. We are trying to preserve our energy. But, for some reason that natural cycle gets me really down. I don’t want to slow down. I want it to be summer time all year- especially in Brighton!
Twelve years ago, I lived in the states. During those three months I would exercise, go to the tanning beds to get my sun fix when those were popular (not healthy) and also met with my therapist, Dr. John, on a weekly basis. Dr. John was the balls. He was a cool little Italian dude who just sat there and stared at me for two years. His style was that of psychotherapy. He was old school. None of this 2019 CBT quick fix therapy. He sat there and listened and nodded when appropriate. He didn’t diagnose or try to fix me. He was the one that told me about Seasonal Affective Disorder. He told me to make sure I cut down on my sugars, take Vit B and Fish Oils and exercise. I learned a lot when I was seeing him. I use a lot of what I learned in our sessions in some of my sessions today, actually.
I think living in an area that is cold, rainy and damp for the most part of the year is quite difficult. I mean after all, I did not grow up with this sort of weather in my veins. I am not a native. Even when I lived in the states my colleagues would comment on how I felt cold all of the time. I am not meant to live in cold weather. But, what if you have to? What if you don’t have a choice? What if living in the cold is part of who you are and inevitable?
One thing I find annoying is that when you feel rubbish, other people feel rubbish, too. So, who is going to do the lifting up of the spirits in your friendship group? It’s a tough one. We all follow that ‘one’ inspirational or ‘two’ gurus to get us by. But, it’s not that easy. I find having Seasonal Affective Disorder quite debilitating sometimes. The winter blues have got us all down, but what can we do?
WHAT CAN WE DO TO GET THROUGH THE SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER?
- stay warm
- when it’s sunny get those arms and legs out – and face into the sun
- talk to friends
- don’t isolate yourself
- take Vitamin B and D
- take Krill Oil
- plunge into cold water
- join a weekly group
- Stop eating junk food
- Embrace the sleep
- Be gentle with yourself
I think a support group needs to be created for those who suffer from SAD. I think it would be a great idea. During the winter months people who need to be around people and positive energy could get together and go hiking, movies, parties and whatever people’s interests are. I follow a lovely lady on instagram and she swims everyday in the English Channel. Now that is totally awesome. Talk about an inspiration.
I think one tip for people who have SAD would be to manage their moods in a diary or calendar.
For instance, in your calendar every year mark a big fat X in the day where you are grumpy that way you can self regulate your moods. What I mean when I say self regulate your mood- you know why you are in a bad mood. It’s because your skin has not seen Vit D in ages, it’s cold, you are tired, things are moving slowly… If you can remind yourself of these things… this time or phase will pass more gracefully.
What are some things you do to get through the winter months? Do you fight it? Do you embrace the SAD? Some people love the winter time! Well, it can be invigorating. @onlinetherapyhelps @getwellbrighton
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Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.
follow her on FB and IG: @getwellbrighton