How to look after your mental health as the seasons change

Are you the kind of person that loves the summer sunshine, but then struggles to get motivated during the autumn and winter months? Well, if so, you may be a long-time sufferer of seasonal affective disorder.

SAD can affect anyone – in fact, the Health Service Executive estimates that about 7% of Ireland’s population experiences symptoms every year. When it comes to the winter months, scientists estimate that the reason for SAD is likely due to the reduced amount of sunlight, which leaves us with a smaller number of happy hormones.

If, during the autumn and winter seasons, you tend to feel more tired than usual, eat more than you normally would, lose a lot of energy, and prefer to be alone, then the root of your problems may be because of SAD. 

To help you through these final few months of the year, we’ve come up with a few tips of what you can do to help keep your SAD symptoms at bay as much as possible:

See daylight as much as possible

When it comes down to it, lack of sunlight is the biggest cause of SAD, so you should try and fix as much sunlight into your day as you possibly can. If you’re stuck in the office five days a week, then you could always go for a short walk around the local area on your lunch break. Even doing something as tiny as this will help to boost your serotonin levels and give you a burst of energy. 

Reach out to others

A problem shared really is a problem halved! Speaking to your family, friends or co-workers about how difficult you find the darker months can really make a difference. This way, they can watch out for your symptoms, and offer you advice and support when you need it. It’s even possible that some of your loved ones could feel the same way you do, which in turn, will help you to feel less alone. 

Plan ahead

There’s a reason why holiday companies advertise holidays in January! Planning for the summer months during the autumn and winter seasons can bring a lot of joy. Whether you’re planning something big like a huge family holiday, or something smaller such as a barbecue party, looking forward to future events can really help to boost your mood. Remembering that there is always light at the end of the tunnel will encourage you to push through the tougher months of the year.

Find joy in the here and now

Despite the colder weather and dimming sunlight, there are things to look forward to during these months!  One of the biggest events is Christmas, with the excitement of purchasing thoughtful gifts for your loved ones and writing down a mammoth food shop list for your Christmas dinner. If you have family events such as birthdays or weddings coming up soon, then the anticipation that they bring can also help to brighten up the dark, winter days. Although the colder months can be difficult, they can also be filled with lots of exciting things!

Seek help if you need to

Of course, if none of these tips help you and you continue to suffer from symptoms for a long period of time, then it might be worthwhile speaking to a professional. Your GP is there to listen to your problems, and will always be able to advise you on the right kind of treatment for you. Remember – you are not on your own, and help is available for you.

For further advice and support, you can contact the following services:

Samaritans: phone 116 123 or email

Aware: phone 1800 80 48 48 or email