I thought my tiredness might have been down to a particularly heavy weekend with friends on both a Friday and Saturday night (I can’t do two nights in a row anymore). But days later, I’m still struggling with tiredness. I can’t get up in the morning and feel the need to go to bed about nine o’clock at night. I’m drinking even more than my usual eight cups of tea in a day in a bid to try and stay awake. By the time I’ve picked the kids up from school at three o’clock I feel like I could get under the covers for a nap.
No Reason to Complain
I’ve really got no excuse to complain. I don’t have a small baby that wakes me up in the night demanding to be fed. My kids are now four and six, and with the exception of the youngest waking on a few occasions with growing pains, we mostly all sleep through the night. I don’t suffer with insomnia, I usually go to sleep as soon as I’ve finished reading my book. I work from home part time, so don’t have to get up exceptionally early to commute into work or juggle work with kids like I know many other parents have to do. So why do I still feel so tired? Why do I feel like I can’t function or even properly open my eyes for most of the day?
I was talking to my sister about this the other day and I know that she feels the same way. She was describing to me on the phone, the very same symptoms even down to the eyeballs not being able to fully open all day. Is it a family thing or are we both suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder? Every year we both seem to get to this time of year and we both feel the same – permanently tired, a bit low and feeling constantly lethargic.
It gets to the point, that I can’t motivate myself even to do the most menial tasks during the day, because I’m lacking in energy.
I’m naturally more of a summer girl who loves the warmer weather and the longer, lighter evenings. I can’t bear the short, grey dreary days. I hate that the sun doesn’t get up until 8am, barely gets light all day and then we are plunged into darkness again at 4pm. Every year, I dread it and yet somehow every year, the short, dark days still takes me by surprise. The worst bit is knowing that we are still ONE MONTH away from the shortest day of the year. I think perhaps I should have been born a bear or a hedgehog or something; I could quite easily hibernate somewhere warm until spring arrives. At the moment, that still feels like a VERY long way off.
What Can We Do?
So what can we do when there’s still another 3 months to get through before we see more sunshine?
My sister treats herself to the occasional sunbed at this time of year and says that this helps. I find that if I can get off my arse and go for a run, this perks me up, or even a walk in the fresh air. Granted this works better on cold, bright mornings, but when it’s grey and drizzly, it can have the opposite effect!
According to the NHS website you can be suffering from S.A.D if you have these symptoms:
- a persistent low mood
- a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- feeling irritable
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- low self-esteem
- feeling stressed or anxious
- a reduced sex drive
- becoming less sociable
- be less active than normal
- feel lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
- sleep for longer than normal and find it hard to get up in the morning
- find it difficult to concentrate
- have an increased appetite – some people have a particular craving for foods containing lots of carbohydrates and end up gaining weight as a result
I can relate to most of these!
Here’s some tips on what they suggest we can do to try and overcome S.A.D:
- try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial
- make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible
- sit near windows when you’re indoors
- take plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight
- eat a healthy, balanced diet
- if possible, avoid stressful situations and take steps to manage stress
They also stress that we should seek help from the doctor if things really get on top of us. I’m not sure I’m quite at that point yet. It’s good to know that these feelings are a real “thing” and that other people go through it too.
I think I could benefit from a nice, month long holiday to Australia. Anyone else care to join me?!
Do you suffer from S.A.D? What do you do to get through the winter months? I’d love to know your tips.