SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder
This is the phenomena often described as “winter depression”. As the days start to get shorter and darker, some find they are struck by low mood and a lack of pleasure or interest in their normal everyday activities. Many of us experience this to some extent, with others finding it plays a massive part in their lives. With many of us leaving home to go to school, university and work in the dark and finding we return home in the dark, it can seem like we are living in darkness. This physical vision of darkness can make us feel down, moody and unproductive. While it is rarely talked about, this is something so many people experience.
The summer is a time when the colours of the walls, clothing and even cars seem super bright. Yet, once winter approaches it feels like grey and black become the only colours we see around us. Our surroundings clearly impact our mindset. The sad effect of this is a number of people do find thsemlves in a deep depression.
The change of seasons is not something any of us can change or withhold. It is a beautiful part of Allah’s creation that they world changes it’s temperature with plants and animals adapting themselves to survive so. Taking this as a lesson, we as the humans who can be affected by this change should also adapt ourselves to remain strong, healthy and happy during the winter.
The winter months are a great time to make up any fasts that you have missed and to create a habit of regularly fasting the Sunnah fasts. This can have a big effect for us, as Muslims, because we are using the changes in the season to positively impact on our Imaan. This can make us view the winter in a different way, instantly changing our outlook and view towards the early evenings and cold weather.
One of the theories behind SAD is that the hormone serotonin, which plays a key role in mood, appetite and sleep, is reduced due to lack of sunlight. Exercise has been shown to increase the amount of serotonin made in the brain, having a positive effect in keeping a person feeling happier and balanced. Exercising regularly also helps to increase energy levels, another factor that helps to combat low mood.
Get out and about
Winter and the cold often leave us sitting indoors. While this can be great because being cosy in your dressing gown is something many of us enjoy, it does have a down side. Reducing the time you spend with friend and family has a negative effect on mood and outlook. Make it a goal to do one activity weekly that involves being outdoors and away from home comforts. This does not mean sitting in the park while it rains getting yourself away from your normal surroundings can do you the world of good!
Make time for you
This is something we should be doing all year round but especially during the winter when our skin tends to be dry and we no longer feel the need to make an effort with our appearance. Setting time aside so you can feel beautiful is a key way to keep your mood up. This can be in the form of a nice bath with bubbles regularly or a facial to keep your skin looking bright; whatever makes you feel pleased with your appearance and self should be booked into your diary.
Diet plays a massive role in mood and energy levels. With low sunlight, our skin suffers the effect of not absorbing vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a key role in many bodily functions but has been linked to depression, tiredness and low mood when a person is deficient. By ensuring you eat a healthy, balanced diet you can try to make up the lack of vitamin D to combat tiredness. Fish, cheese, egg yolks and foods fortified with vitamin D, such as orange juice and some dairy products, are great things to add into the diet.
Lighten up your surroundings
Low lighting can make the dark from the outside seem even worse. Purchase some bright lights that will keep you motivated to hit your daily tasks, even when the sun has set. Often, feeling unproductive and demotivated can leave you feeling down in the dumps because your to-do list does not seem like it is ever ending. Tackling this with a few practical changes could make the world of difference.
How does winter make you feel? Do you have any tips on how to keep your mood bubbly and joyful during the cold? Let us know in the comments below so we can all in shaa Allah have a good, warm winter.