There is no doubt that winter has arrived. It’s dark when we leave for work and dark on our way home, making it hard to stay positive this season (even with the endless Christmas festivities).

But it may be a little more concerning than just counting down the days until next summer, as over 20% of Brits suffer from mild symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as ‘winter blues’. While for a further 8%, it can be a much more serious condition with the NHS marking it a mental health issue that shouldn’t be ignored.

So how do we avoid being affected by SAD this season?

Take your breaks outside

This might seem like a difficult request given that it’s only natural to want to keep warm in the colder months, but since SAD is a direct result of our sudden lack of sunlight suddenly affecting the hormones in our brain, it makes sense to try and get in as much daylight exposure as possible.

So, take your morning coffee break on a bench, wall, or outside seating area near your office to help keep the winter darkness away from your mood.

Take a daily dose of vitamin D

Previous surveys show that nearly 25% of British adults are vitamin D deficient, so if you don’t already take it daily, then you definitely should, especially now that it’s winter and our bodies have no other way to get any.

Get a gradual light alarm clock

Another huge cause of SAD is the sudden shock the seasonal change has on our body clock. But purchasing a gradual light alarm clock can help reduce the stress of getting up when it’s still dark outside and the effect this has on our bodies and effectively, our minds.

Starting from an hour or so before you’re due to wake up, these alarm clocks start to light up your room slowly, to make your mind wake up naturally, as it would if the sun was rising outside your window. With these stress-relievers ranging from about £20-£100, it’s easy to find one that best suits your needs and your budget.

Try to sit near a window when indoors

It can be borderline impossible to get any sunlight throughout November, December and January when you work full time. But if you’re really struggling with the darkness, don’t hesitate to speak to your manager and see if you can move your work space near an office window.

After all, having an employee suffering with SAD isn’t beneficial for anybody.

Cut back on sugar

This is probably equally as tough as the first suggestion given that the festive season is full of delicious sugary sweets, but for the sake of your mental health, you might have to resist the gingerbread men and put down the mince pies.

As well as causing mood swings, a constant sluggish feeling and regular energy crashes, excessive sugar intake can lead to quick weight gain, which will only add to the feeling of depression and sadness that comes with this condition. So, don’t let anything add to the way you’re feeling and stick to a healthy diet and regular workout schedule to ensure you can enjoy some guilt-free treats this Christmas – because you know it is Christmas and you’re only human after all.

This is the first post by our new guest writer Danielle Harrod. Danielle is a MA Magazine Journalism graduate with a passion for fashion, beauty, food, travel, books and just like us, Anything Goes. Check out her blog Where do the duck goes? to find out more about her. We’re looking forward to welcoming many more from her in future.

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