How to Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder & The Winter Blues 

Ah January, we cannot lie, we will be glad to see the back of you for another year! The dark cold mornings, and creeping daylight means that for many of us at this time of year, we leave for work in the dark and return home in the dark, limiting our exposure to daylight to next to nothing. 

Whilst for some of us this can leave us longing for warmer climates and brighter days, for others it can have a far more serious impact on mood, energy levels and well, ability to feel, work and live well. If these feelings are something you relate to, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the condition affects around 3 in every 100 adults in the UK. While the exact causes of SAD aren’t yet clear, the reduced amount of light at this time seems to be important

That’s why we are thrilled to be bringing the sunshine to Paddington Central hosting our Sunshine Lounge, daily from 23rd Jan – 3rd Feb! Taking place in an inflatable cocoon like space in the heart of Sheldon Square, our Sunshine Lounge will allow you to bathe in the warmth of lightboxes, powered by light therapy experts Lumie, whose bright broad-spectrum bulbs treat SAD in typically only 30 minutes a day. As you bask in the light, you’ll also be able to enjoy a soothing and warming tea from Pukka, whilst our Work Well Being experts share their tips and techniques on lifestyle measures we can take to make winter more manageable.

Whilst we cannot promise that you’ll exit the Sunshine Lounge to bright blue skies, hopefully you’ll return to work feeling a little perkier and brighter and ready to take on the rest of what winter has in store for us!

Here are our top tips for things you can do to boost your mood and energy levels in winter, curated by our expert health coach, Ollie Oshodi: 

1)    Go outside whenever you can and get as much natural sunlight as possible. Try to go for at least a brief walk at lunchtimes. Make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible and sit near windows when you’re inside if you can.

2)    Make movement a priority. Although exercise can be the last thing we want to do when it’s cold and dark, physical exercise can be very effective in lifting your mood and increasing your energy levels. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a hardcore gym session - gardening, walking or a light jog can be equally as effective. 

3)    Consider additional lighting support. Medically certified lightboxes such as the Lumie Brazil can stimulate exposure to sunlight and reduce SAD symptoms.

4)    Support your energy levels and mood with good nutrition. Focus on eating a healthy and balanced diet that is full of unprocessed whole foods. Reduce the processed and refined simple carbohydrates you may be craving (e.g. cakes, biscuits, white pasta) as consumption can lead to blood sugar crashes, which cause low energy, mood and additional cravings. 

Increase your intake of Omega 3s with oily fish, flaxseed and hemp oils and consider good quality Vitamin D3 supplementation, as the best source of Vitamin D is the sunlight we’re lacking at this time of the year. 

5)    Reduce your caffeine intake and instead try a calming herbal tea as the caffeine in coffee, tea and energy drinks can suppress serotonin levels. Teas such as Pukka’s Three Ginger can give you a warming and energizing kick when it’s cold outside.

6)    Optimise your sleep dim lighting and stop looking at phone, computer and TV screens at least an hour before going to bed. Consider Epsom Salt baths, which help to boost magnesium levels, essential for balanced moods.

7)    Build a support network and talk to friends and family if you’re feeling low. Knowing that you are not alone and that help is available can make SAD easier to cope with. Organisations such as SADA can provide further assistance