The winter blues can affect anyone and the symptoms can range from feeling a bit down to intense feelings of hopelessness and sleep problems. It is estimated that around 2 million people in the UK suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) to some degree or another, so it’s likely to affect you or someone you know at some point in your lifetime.
SAD and its variations are linked to sunlight and are not fully understood, but it has been proven that being exposed to more natural light can have a positive effect on symptoms. It is thought that the lack of sunlight over the winter months affects the chemical balance in the brain as well as the ‘internal clock’ we all have. Many people who suffer from SAD have found that a light box or sun lamp can help, especially if they work in an artificially lit office environment. However, nothing can really beat proper daylight – so how can you make the most of this in your home?
The hallway is a commonly neglected area, as many people simply pass through it without a second thought. Viewed by many as simply a functional area of the home, the hallway can be enhanced in order to greatly improve the way you feel when entering and leaving your house.
For instance, coming home to a brightly coloured front door which has secure glazed panels to let in light can be much more mood enhancing than entering a dark & dingy hallway through a door which has seen better days. If you’re lucky enough to return home during daylight hours in the winter, then a hallway which allows natural light to flood in can give a positive ambiance to your home. It can help to decorate your hallway in lighter colours and to have a lamp or light switch right next to the door, so that you don’t have to spend more time in the dark than necessary.
Having a conservatory is one of the best ways to enjoy the benefits of natural light whilst still experiencing the comforts of home. Spending the daylight hours in a conservatory during the winter months could really help, as you would be surrounded on all sides by natural light.
Of course, those who already have a conservatory will know that they aren’t always the warmest area of the home when it’s cold outside. Ensuring that the glazing is installed properly and having any weak points repaired or replaced can help with this. Using blinds to direct the sun into as much of the conservatory as possible can also be beneficial. You may also want to consider adding a heater or log burner to boost the temperature and encourage use of the space.
Replacing your back door or ground floor windows with French or patio doors can make a big difference to the amount of natural light that is let in to your home. If the back of your property is south facing, then doors like this could really maximise the light available during the winter. This could be beneficial not just to the people in your home, but to any houseplants too. Houseplants have been recognised as mood enhancers, so having a few dotted about may also help if you’re suffering from the winter blues.
Enjoying the Outdoors
Optimising your home in order to make the most of the natural light can make a big difference, but getting out and about during daylight hours is one of the most effective ways to keep the blues at bay. This is because direct sunlight and exercise can both help keep your mind in good health.
Pets have also been shown to improve mental health, so it may help to walk the dog, if you have one, or borrow a friend’s pet. If you don’t know anyone with a dog, then try your local animal shelter – they are often looking for volunteer dog walkers. This not only gives you the benefits of having an animal around but also gets you out in the fresh air and sunlight, allowing you to have the best of both worlds.
Click here for more information about our products or call 0345 145 0130 to talk to one of our knowledgeable advisors. If you are worried about your mental health at any time of the year, be sure to contact your GP.