Have you noticed a change in yourself due to the shorter days and colder weather? Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, could be behind it.
What is SAD?
SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. The NHS says it is most often experienced during the winter months, however you can occasionally experience the opposite.
Despite SAD being a recognised mental health disorder, nobody knows exactly what causes it. SAD can occur when our circadian rhythms change - these are our natural rhythms that govern our mind and body’s functions, including eating, sleeping, and more.
For many, the causes and symptoms are unique to your situation and person.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
SAD is most commonly identified by a loss of pleasure or interest in everyday tasks, such as working or socialising.
Other symptoms of SAD include:
feelings of anxiousness, emptiness, or sadness
lack of concentration
no interest in physical contact
reduced interest in social occasions
sleep problems, including insomnia or sleeping longer than usual
How SAD affects entrepreneurs
For any kind of solo work, SAD can affect you more than most. Along with SAD, you may feel under pressure to meet deadlines, find new business, and generally keep your business afloat.
According to Mind, having SAD can also make you more prone to illness. In the winter months, this can mean bouts of cold, infections, or other illnesses that may stop you from working on your business.
SAD is very similar to burnout, in that it can result in a lower rate of productivity and put your business at risk.
How to prevent SAD from affecting you
Besma says “The colder weather means I don’t really want to go outside, and when I do, I’m always hurriedly trying to do everything before the sun goes down.
This in itself causes some form of anxiety, and again, a never ending list of activities that I should have done already.”
Despite much research into SAD, there’s no “cure”. Instead, we recommend doing the following to stave off any treatable affects and improve your symptoms:
Sleep eight hours per night, consistently throughout the week
Keep yourself warm and comfortable while working
Avoid stressful situations - the exercises in our Pocket Book may prove useful
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Top up on vitamin D and magnesium using suitable supplements
Try to go outside at least once per day, during daylight hours
Exercise a few times per week
Build a support network - get started in the Calmer Professionals Group