Beat the Winter Blues With These SAD-Busting Happiness Tips

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As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, it’s common to feel a little bit more grumpy and tired. And while most of us don't suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, we may well experience a mild version of some of the symptoms. 

But don't worry, if you're feeling a bit low now that winter's here. There are plenty of steps to get back on track, from specialised light therapy options to simple changes to your diet, lifestyle and routine.

If you're concerned your symptoms are something more serious, however, don't ignore them. 'SAD is a type of depression with seasonal symptoms like low energy, poor concentration and memory, feelings of sadness, flatness, anger, irritability and low motivation,' says Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, Marie Lethbridge. 'If you're worried, consult your GP for further advice.'

Stick To a Regular Exercise Routine

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As tempting as it is to snuggle in your duvet all day with Netflix, sadly it won't help your mood or productivity. Lethbridge recommends joining a sports club or getting involved in group exercise to motivate you to get out and about, enjoy some fresh air and stay sociable. 

Try swapping your usual coffee date with friends for a physical activity, and head to the park for a walk or jog. Make sure you stock up on some warm, waterproof and windproof activewear and stylish trainers with extra grip to help you conquer those pesky puddles. 

If you prefer exercising alone, activity trackers – such as the Fitbit Charge 2 – let you add friends so you can set shared goals, spur each other on and send reminders to stay active while keeping it fun and engaging. 

Catch Some Rays



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Vitamin D is an instant mood-booster, so make sure you get as much sunlight as possible. A quick stroll, having your morning cup of coffee in your garden or braving the cold for a lunch break in the park will all help you feel more balanced and refreshed throughout the day. 

However, if you really can’t face the cold and rain, there is a range of specially designed SAD sunrise lamps that mimic sunrise and sunset to trick your body clock into reacting to the ‘sun’ to help you regulate your schedule. You could also try working by the window and increasing the light levels in your home. 

Keep Track of Your Emotions



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One simple way to keep an eye on your mood levels and emotions is to write it all down and play close attention to any changes. Pick up a mood journal and write down the times of day, your stress levels and your daily schedule to help you spot any triggers that could be exacerbating your symptoms throughout the day. 

Lethbridge says it’s particularly important to keep an eye on the way you're thinking. 'If it's becoming negative or unrealistic,' she says, 'ask yourself questions such as “What evidence do I have to say this is true?”, “Am I looking at the whole picture?” or “What would I say to a friend if they were in this situation?”'

Asking these questions will help you stay honest with yourself and gain a new perspective on negative situations or circumstances you're struggling to cope with. 

Maintain a Healthy Diet



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Diet plays a big role in your mood and energy levels, so make sure you avoid sugar crashes or hunger slumps. You don’t have to dramatically change your diet, or suddenly start eating a specific type of food, but generally maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet will help you manage or avoid SAD symptoms. 

Stock up on handy Tupperware to help you prepare healthy meals throughout the week, and invest in a new healthy cookbook to give you plenty of inspiration for nutritious new recipes. 

Keep the Same Routine All Year Round



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If you work hard to prevent the weather or daylight hours ruling your schedule – and stick to the same routine all year – you’ll find that winter won’t affect you so much. Pick up a detailed planner that's designed to help you stay organised and set a realistic routine that works for you. 

Even writing down and practicing small changes like going to bed and waking up at the same times, working next to a window and ensuring you get plenty of natural light throughout the day will make a huge difference to your general well-being.  

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