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The Darker Side of Christmas

November 14, 2019

As the temperature starts to take a dramatic drop, the coats come out, the woolly hats go on and we start the fast descent into Christmas. The decorations are going up and the shops are fully stocked. Christmas can be a happy time, filled with parties and celebrations and getting excited about seeing the kids little faces on Christmas day. But for some, this period is not filled with joy and happiness. For some, this period is filled with darkness and sadness. For those who have lost loved ones, Christmas can be a harsh reminder that they are no longer here and cause painful memories to resurface every year. This period also brings about colder weather, shorter days and an epidemic of winter depression. This condition, also known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), can strike suddenly or can be a state that is reached by some people every single year. There are also those around us who don’t have anyone to share this time with and because of the colder weather, the social events they might enjoy in the summer have ceased and the loneliness starts to become more apparent.

 

So what can we do to beat those winter blues? Well, if you know of anyone who

 experiences winter as a time of sadness, be mindful…. What is it you would need in your loneliest hour?

 

 

 

 

If you yourself struggle at this time of year, what can you do to combat those dark feelings and make this time of year a little more bearable? If you suffer from a form of SAD, there are several approaches you can take to help lift your mood. One of the reasons this disorder is said to occur is due to the limited exposure to sunlight. To combat this, you could try a form of light exposure therapy. This involves sitting near a very bright light for a period of time, every day. These lamps are readily available and this form of therapy can be carried out at home, in the office, or anywhere that you are able sit for a period of time. Amazon has a range of lamps available for treating SAD, however, I would recommending checking with your GP before buying one, to make sure it’s suitable.

 

 

 

 

Other ways to improve this condition are to try and get as much natural light as possible. Spending some time outdoors each day can be very beneficial. If you can combine this with some light exercise, such as a lunchtime walk, the combination of exercise and natural light exposure can give your body a real boost. Repeating this each day and combining it with a healthy balanced diet can have a significant impact.

 

 

 

We often also underestimate the benefit of having a good night’s sleep. Ensuring you have a good sleep routine, can help stabilise your mood. Sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on the mind and is a common cause of depression and anxiety.

 

 

 

Another way to get the most out of the cold season is to try out a new indoor activity. Maybe join a new class, such as Yoga or Pilates, great for the mind and body. Or, sign up for that online course you’ve putting off all summer.  

 

Counselling can also be a useful tool to use alongside these methods. For some, winter sadness can be prevalent despite using the above methods. Sometimes the depression has reached a point which makes engaging in these things particularly difficult. In some cases, the sadness is caused by a loss or traumatic event and it takes a different approach to manage and lift these feelings. Where you are lacking the motivation to start up anything new or change any of your day to day, when everything seems impossible and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, counselling can help.  

 

 

For more information on my services, please see www.julieannegamecounselling.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might also find it helpful to consult your GP to find out what other services and treatments are available.

 

The following websites contain some useful information:

 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/

 

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad

 

Please also find below a list of useful and emergency helpline numbers –

 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

 

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