Have you been feeling the effects of seasonal affective disorder recently?
Well, you might be surprised to know that you're not alone.
A fortnight ago, I came into my kitchen to find my partner cupping a warm mug of tea, locked into their own thoughts, staring out the window.
"What are you thinking about?" I whispered. They explained that they had been feeling low in mood, commenting how they just wanted winter to be over and done, and with the fading light in the afternoons, they longed for brighter days. Bored of constantly viewing thick grey skies, behind the backdrop of stark, naked tree branches, which the rough winds pulled though, causing them to sway ferociously. The rain and the dizzle had made the view from the kitchen window look as if somebody had lowered the dimmer switch on the outside world.
On this particular day, local public transport had also been suspended, meaning they were unable to travel to their place of work. Even though they were able to work from home, this added to their anxiety, making them feel entrapped within the four walls of home.
We bought a bouquet of yellow carnations and displayed them in the kitchen, hoping that the bright, vibrant colours would uplift the mood and act as a reminder that spring should hopefully be visiting soon.
According to online research, it is estimated that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects one in twenty people in the UK, with predominant more men than women.
Most commonly amongst the months of December to February.
So how do you know if you or somebody you know has seasonal affective disorder? The severity of SAD can affect individuals in different ways but can include:
losing interest in everyday activities, regular hobbies, or social events.
feeling anxious or irritable.
sleeping for periods longer than usual and finding it difficult to get up.
trouble sleeping at night despite low energy levels
increased appetite and craving for stodgy or sugary carbohydrate food types
finding it hard to stay connected with family and friends
not wanting or deliberately avoiding going outside
feelings of low self-esteem and hopelessness.
In the spirit of inquiry, I asked some of the counsellors and psychotherapists at Southampton Counselling Practice, 'How do you prevent an attack of the winter blues?'
In regards to myself, I try to be mindful that this time of year will not last forever. I notice subtle differences in the weather as the light is starting to fade at 4 p.m. instead of 3 p.m. I keep myself busy and proactive with indoor activities and hobbies that I am less likely to participate in during the warmer months, such as catching up with television shows, completing crossword puzzles, or spending hours making a home cooked meal and experimenting with different recipes.
For Tom Bulpit, Southampton Counselling Practice Managing Director, see the wintertime as a pendulum to "make sure I balance time to hibernate and do the things I love (reading, Warhammer, gaming, etc.) with time around the people I love."
But also acknowledging internal thoughts and emotions, as Tom cites, "Also keeping a sense of perspective, bad weather makes me feel low sometimes, and that's OK. The bad weather will pass; I'm allowed to feel how I feel."
Charlie Gould-Smith, Southampton Counselling Practice Director, approach to is embrace the interchangeable season by "getting out in the winter sunshine, hot chocolate, utilising winter spices such as cinnamon, enjoying lots of cuddles, and whole milk," which helps replenish additional vitamins, nutrients, and fats the body needs to function.
I understand, as we've just entered February, that many people may have feelings of lethargy with still many more cold, dark days ahead as the wind howls and rain pours.
Maybe you've recently noticed changes in your mood, low self-esteem, or lack of confidence, waking up to feelings of dread or having little motivation, and would like to talk to a counsellor about what you are experiencing.
Here at Southampton Counselling Practice, we offer a free 20-minute telephone consultation without any pressure, sales tactics, or, most importantly, waiting lists.
If you are happy with the service you received and wish to continue working together, you can book a 50-minute session that can take place at a time and day that is suitable for you and your lifestyle to attend either in person, over the telephone, online, or via live messenger.
If this article has been of interest to you and you would like to find out more information or book a consultation, please feel free to send an email from the 'contact us' tab or text, call, or WhatsApp our managing director, Tom, on 07341 636107.
All the very best,