Summer 2018 has been one of the best summers in my memory, I've managed to keep my mental health fairly in check this year, to the point that I've been able to really enjoy my summer and make the most of the (shockingly nice) weather. But as with every good thing, Summer is coming to an end. I love Autumn, I love the colours, being able to get super cosy at night time and having an excuse to drink excessive amounts of chai lattes, but along with all of the good, Autumn also brings some issues. As far as I knew, SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) is caused by a lack of vitamin D, which we get a lot of from sunlight, but while researching it I found out that its thought to be caused by a lack of light in general, when light hits the back of your eyes it send a message to a part of your brain which controls various things like your sleep, mood and appetite, if there isn't enough light then it can cause these controls to slow down or totally stop.
I get SAD pretty much every year, it comes around like clockwork when Autumn comes round, I start to feel more sleepy (I'm already tired like 98% of the time, in Autumn thats bumped up to a solid 99%), I have little motivation to actually get up and do everyday tasks and I find it hard to concentrate when I do, and I just generally feel a much stronger low mood than I usually do. SAD can also effect your appetite, some people find that they crave carbs more than normal or feel the want to snack more than normal, it can effect your sex drive or want for physical contact and it can even lower your immune system in the colder months. Its a really common for people to have symptoms of SAD, apparently 1 in 3 people in the UK suffer with it. So if you are feeling this way, remember that you are not alone, its a totally normal thing and its something that most people will experience at some stage in life, but if it effects you too much then you can always go to your GP or call the Samaritans free on 116 123 (UK).
I've been told various tips and tricks on how to help chill out the symptoms but honestly, none of them have ever worked for me, I know you can take Vitamin D supplements, apparently weekly sun bed sessions can help and you can buy special lights to help. But for me, the things that's helped me the most is to just keep myself busy, even if I don't want to, getting up and doing something (even if its literally getting dressing and showering) can really change how low I feel in a day, having thinks planned that I can look forward too is also a massive help. Try planning something every week to give yourself something to be focused on and aim for, even if that plan is just to have a night shut off from the world watching Step Brothers on repeat, just having something in your head to help to you through each day has always helped me with my motivation. Getting plenty of fresh air has been a big help for me in the past as well, even if its just a having a window open in your room, it can make you feel less lethargic and helps me actually want to get out of bed. Starting every morning with a cup of matcha has also helped me with motivation big time and helped me keep my appetite under control, it gives you a caffeine kick to get you up but doesn't have the same crash that you get from coffee.
As someone who suffers with mental health issues all year round as well as amped up seasonal symptoms, I've found it really helpful over the last year or so to just let the people around me know how I'm doing, you don't need to explain it to them if you don't want to, but just sit down with someone and say "look, I'm not feeling good" can really help take some pressure off you, especially with personal and work relationships. I know this tip isn't always possible and not everyone will feel comfortable talking to people about how they're feeling, but if you're able too and you want to, it can really help. Please don't take anything that I am saying as the gospel truth, everyone deals with things differently and thats okay, this is just how I have helped myself through SAD season.
Thank you for reading X