Hi! I'm Sally and I'm a third year Psychology student. I love music, photography and going to watch West End shows. I am very passionate about mental health and am currently the Mental Health Project Editor.
It’s that time of year again when we all stand at the window and can’t believe our eyes that it’s dark again – an obligatory “I just can’t believe it’s dark already” has to be said. But this time of year isn’t just about how shocking the lack of sun is for everyone.
For some people the lack of sunlight can bring on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression that can come and go based on the seasons. Most commonly this happens during the winter but some people experience SAD during summer.
SAD can affect more people than you think and can seem as though there is no way to get through the winter months. I want to reassure you that this is not the case and there are a few things that you can do to help you through, but please remember that if you are finding the shorter nights difficult then don’t hesitate to reach out for support, services available are attached to the end of the article.
Even if you don’t feel as though you are affected by SAD, the shorter days can still feel like a slog to get through and make you feel less productive, as it feels like there is less time in the day.
A few tips that can help you along the way:
1. Getting out for a walk
When your house is warm and outside is cold it seems like such as easy decision to stay inside and do nothing. But getting out while it is still light is a great way to get some sunlight and feel as though it is not constantly dark outside. Also, exercise can release endorphins and help you feel happier.
2. Get a SAD light
There are specific lights that you can get that replicate the effects of sunlight called light boxes. These can be beneficial if you struggle to get up as they can replicate the sun rising, but they can also be used as it gets darker earlier in the day to get the feeling of the days being longer. Some of these can be expensive but there are some cheaper alternatives that work just as well!
3. Try sticking to a schedule
If you have a schedule in your life, then it can help the days feel more structured and less jumbled. Often when the days get shorter it can feel like they’re over so quickly and you can feel less productive. However, if you have a structure then you’re less likely to waste the day.
4. Open your blinds/curtains
Whilst the sun is out make sure to open your curtains or blinds to let as much light in as possible whilst it’s still up. If you make this a part of your routine then you’ll keep doing it every day and it will help you feel as though there is more time during the day.
5. Organise plans with your friends
If you make regular plans with your friends, it will not only add to your routine but it will also give you things to look forward to. Making plans during the day can help you make the most of the sunlight but also making plans once it’s gotten dark can make it seem like you don’t always have to be at home or in bed as soon as it gets dark. If you do start to utilise going out remember to stay safe – check out this article to make sure you are using some of these tips to stay safe when it’s dark and if you’re out drinking.
Hopefully, these tips can help if you’re feeling the effects of the darker nights – but if you’re really struggling don’t hesitate to contact Student Wellbeing for support.