The time post-Christmas is often a bleak one. Miserable weather, a lack of daylight and empty bank accounts do not tend to make us happy.

SAD woman relaxing in bath

Peculiarly, lots of us jump into this most challenging month depriving ourselves of what we love, food, wine, fun with friends, as part of the pursuit of ultimate health.

It’s not surprising with all that going on, that many of us start to develop a touch of the winter blues, where we just feel a bit ‘meh’ and flat. This can be worse if you’re one of the 5 – 10% of UK women who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder).


Thought to be the result of a lack of light, SAD is a clinically proven mood disorder (so very definitely real). 

It starts in the Autumn, usually around late September and peaks in late winter – around February. Its effects look very similar to mild to moderate clinical depression and can include:

  •       Struggling to wake up, or fall asleep
  •       Eating too much or too little
  •       A loss of enjoyment in everyday tasks
  •       A lack of energy
  •       An increase in anxious thoughts
  •       A loss of libido
  •       A loss of motivation
  •       A lack of concentration and focus
  •       Increased irritability and emotional reactivity

What separates SAD from clinical depression, is that it lifts rapidly, almost as soon as the days get longer in early March. It will usually be entirely gone by April.

Its effects look very similar to mild to moderate clinical depression and can include:


There are several holistic and wellbeing-based treatments that are hugely beneficial for SAD sufferers:

Getting outside early in the day:

Going for a walk early in the day is beneficial for lots of reasons.  Firstly, exercise releases serotonin, your happy hormone.  Secondly, the early light allows your body to access Vitamin D, which is responsible for managing your winter symptoms, along with bone density and overall health.


CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy is a form of therapy that helps re-align your thinking.   You can use some of the techniques yourself, quite simply. 

-          Try making a list of no more than six things to do the next day in the evening. Once your list is done, you’re finished for the day

-          Journal your positive thoughts for the day to lift your mood

-          Structure things that make you happy into your life

-          Do something community led (our piece on sea conservation might give you some great ideas)

get outside

Make Time for Self care

We know how overused a word ‘self care’ is but when it comes to mental health concerns, like SAD, it can be revolutionary.

Epsom Salt Bath:  

A simple bath has two benefits – firstly raising the temperature then dropping it can help if you struggle to sleep

Essential Oils:

Essential oils like trigger the olfactory nerve and the vagal response.  They can be used to unwind, relax and uplift and are much more environmentally friendly then wax melts or high street candles.


In the winter, we lack energy.  This shows in our skin, which becomes pale and loses its radiance.  Using massage tools like a Jade Roller upwards and out on our face, chest, upper back and arms can encourage blood flow, increasing nutrient delivery and restoring that winter glow.

Body Brushing

In the chilly Nordic regions, they’re huge fans of body brushing. Much the same as above it encourages blood flow, reduces skin complaints and energises. 

Cold Shower

It may sound counterintuitive but if you body brush, then jump in a hot shower, then finish with a 30 second blast of cold water it can stimulate the area of the brain responsible for mood and well-being.  Studies show that particularly those with SAD benefit from this treatment.

Using less heat is also an environmental winner – so it’s good all round.

Get Away/ Do Something Different

You MIGHT be able to disappear to the Maldives for a mood lift, but most of us can’t

Instead, visit a place you’ve never been. A new town, local woods or hidden place of interest can spark your creativity and reinvigorate your curiosity for life.

Finally, remember that like all things, winter is transient.  Create a mantra, like this will pass, or spring is on it’s way to keep you hopeful and moving forwards.



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