When we think of Autumn, we often think of Pinterest worthy images – Pumpkin spice lattes, cosy scarves and cardigans, and crunching through brightly coloured leaves in the park.
For many people, the reality is so much different. According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, as much as 20% of the UK population suffers from mild symptoms of SAD, and it usually starts around September, when the nights start drawing in. For 2% of SAD sufferers, it amounts to a seriously disabling illness, leaving them dreading this time of year.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression which is affected by the seasons. Most people feel happier when the sun is shining and the days are longer. We tend to prefer ‘comfort food’ and more sleep in the winter. That’s pretty normal. However, those that suffer with SAD notice this much more, to the point that it has a significant impact on day-to-day life. It’s all to do with what your body wants to do and what you are asking it to do. Your alarm clock is telling you it is time to get up and start the day, but your body is telling you it is still dark so it is time to rest. This can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety, overeating, problems with sleeping and waking, and can impact on focus and productivity at work.
Luckily, there are some things that you can do to make your house more ‘SAD friendly’.
In the bedroom
Some specialists recommend decorating your house in a light, bright manner, and letting in as much light as possible during daylight hours. Some swear by a dawn simulator alarm, which can make waking up easier. These don’t treat SAD, but can help with some of the symptoms. They work by mimicking natural dawn light. Many people find that it eases them into the day better and helps them to feel more awake. Lumie is one of the leading suppliers of dawn simulators, and sells models with functions such as sunset simulation, aromatherapy treatment and radios.
In the kitchen
SAD can encourage you to overeat, and in particular, reach for carbs for comfort. Keep your kitchen stocked with fruit and vegetables, and vitamin D rich foods. Researchers have found that people with low vitamin D levels are more prone to SAD. You could also eat your breakfast under a light box. They deliver light therapy and can be expensive. Don’t be tempted to buy one of the cheap ones – choose ones that are CE certified and proven to treat SAD – SADA have some recommendations on their website.
In the living/dining room
Let as much natural light in as possible – open the curtains and sit by the window as much as possible. If you have separate living and dining rooms, why not consider opening up the space to allow more light. Bi-fold doors, fitted by brands such as Creative Doors Direct can be fitted both internally and externally, to help the flow of light between rooms, and are an energy efficient way of separating the two rooms without restricting light.
In the garden
When the weather is less than appealing it can be hard to summon up the effort to go out there. Invest a few hours in trimming back anything that blocks light into your home. Spend a while out there when you can – it may be getting cold but sunlight on exposed skin can be beneficial to SAD sufferers. There are lots of things that can help to heat your garden, such as chimneas, firepits and BBQ tables.
Do you or someone you know suffer from SAD? Have you made any changes to your lifestyle or home? I would love to hear your tips!