23 September 2015

COPING WITH S.A.D

 photo fromlucywithloveSAD_zpsyejcttj9.png
{Image sourced from Pinterest}

I have wanted to pop up a little post about Seasonal Affective Disorder for a while, and seeing as the darker mornings are creeping in, I thought now was a good enough time.

*Please bear in mind that this is just my experience and everyone is different!*

It has taken me many, many years to come up with a routine that keeps me going in the winter. For me the worst time of day is first thing in the morning and having to pull myself up and out of bed in the pitch black that is 5am. This is really darn annoying as I have grown to be a morning person and, in the summer months, love nothing more than to get up early and take on the day.

It was only toward the tail-end of last week that I started to get that strange feeling in the pit of my stomach that I associate with the anxiety caused by SAD. As I haven't discussed SAD at length with anyone, I really don't know how other peoples symptoms manifest themselves, but mine is a growing sense of worry and anxiousness, always first thing in the morning, and only in the winter. I do occasionally long for warmth and longer, lighter days, but that is not all consuming for me, which, from what I have read, seems the most common thing. (Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments or email me if you would rather - I am keen to know of anyone else gets this type of reaction).

Believe me, I have tried to reason with myself about this reaction, saying things in my head like 'come on Lucy, things are no different, it is just dark' and many other more strong sentences! When I worked shifts in a gym I found this feeling intensified. The variation of hours messed with my poor brain in the winter months, and I struggled with the more common symptoms of lethargy and much lower mood but this all calmed down with more of a routine, and I have now developed a few small but effective things to help me through the morning dip...

:: Don't go back to sleep! 
Hitting snooze, as ruddy wonderful an idea as it will seem at the time, can really give me the morning blues. I do set three alarms, 15 minutes apart, but these are my 'just in case' alarms (just in case I am in full hibernation mode and just didn't hear the first one!). Trust me though guys, just sit yourself up on the edge of your bed on the first alarm, it is a bit of a game changer.

:: Refresh.
I have always been a morning shower person. I need to cleanse my mind and body before the day gets going or else I feel stagnant for the entire day. If you can stand it (and you have the time - which you will have, because you will be up on the first alarm!) then definitely give it a shot. Make it something you look forward to. I like to treat myself to a little hair mask every now and then; I usually save this treat for really bad mornings and it does help me a lot.

:: Distract.
As a bit of a YouTube addict, I like to save videos on my 'watch later' playlist. I work my way through them when I am putting on my make up in the morning, or I'll chuck a TV show on that I have missed in the week. Having voices on in the  background is a winner for me.

:: Make time for small moments.
This kind of fits in with the 'not snoozing' thing. If you give yourself a bit of extra time, so you are not rushing about like a mad thing, then you will have time to give yourself a few minutes to enjoy a cup of tea and some breakfast. If you associate your mornings with rushing and not having time to eat/drink/put your face on, whatever it is, you will not look forward to getting up and at 'em! Not only that, but feeding your body with nutrients, especially first thing in the morning, is so important.

:: Make the commute a haven.
I am a massive radio fan but, more recently, I have enjoyed turning my 60 minute drive into an audio-book or pod-cast haven. I really love this time and look forward to getting into my car and absorbing the words being spoken. I always listen to something uplifting or motivational, never something sad or scary (call me a wimp but I need lifting up at that time in the morning!). If you have a project you are working on, write a blog or have a hobby you love, why not use your commute to listen to a pod cast that will drive your passion? Now that my hour in the car is productive I feel I am starting my day off on the right foot - I get to work in what seems like a flash and I am full of new ideas and inspiration. It's a win-win situation :-)

Let's not forget the importance of drinking lots of water to ward off tiredness and the positive effect of a good, nutrient-packed diet (pack a good lunch and enough healthy snacks to keep you going). After all of this, when you arrive home, try doing 30-40 minutes of exercise to pick up your energy, before settling in for a cosy night in front of the TV - don't sit down first, just get in, get changed and get moving!
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