About Neina Sheldon

Hi! I'm Neens and this is The Light Room. I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder - SAD - in 2003 and have been managing it since. I set up this blog to provide information, advice and support for other sufferers of SAD and Winter Blues/Winter Depression, their friends, family, colleagues and employers.

Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies…?

sadlightblog.info sunshine park 169x300 Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies...?Hello there!

I hope you’ve been having a fantastic summer and enjoying the warmth and bright light?  How have you been and what have you been up to?

I have been absolutely loving the warmer sunshine-y weather!  Work has kept me exceptionally busy this year with a major website development project that required a fair bit of overtime.  So you can bet your bottom dollar I did my best to make up for the Saturdays and late evenings I’d worked - sitting in the park, at pavement cafés or on my balcony! icon smile Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies...?

So while I’m enjoying this weather and thinking ‘yay, it’s still summer’, the tail end of Hurricane Bertha this last few days has been a bit of a rude awakening – I actually felt cold this week!  Did you get a shock too?  It’s not the first change I’ve noted, that made me think ‘hmm, it feels autumnal – time to think about my SAD strategies for the coming months…?’  I have a stubborn view that summer should equal light.  But it’s not always that way, is it?  Thunderstorms and the gradual shortening of the days now that we’ve passed the summer solstice can throw you.  I’ve found myself wanting to curl up under my blanket with a hot chocolate only a couple of weeks after being sat out on my balcony sunbathing and reading with a diet coke!

So without wanting to spoil anybody’s late summer, I’m going to resist my desire to stick my head in the sand and ignore the signs that the season is turning, and invite you to join me…

Can you spare ten minutes?  Not for me; for yourself! icon smile Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies...?  Recently I was thinking: if you took ten minutes for yourself each day, what could you do with that time?  I started to implement this idea and came up with a few suggestions; you will no doubt have your own, which I’d love to hear…

Practising Gratitude

Have you seen the #100happydays exercise?  I haven’t done this personally, but a few friends and colleagues did and enjoyed it.  Could this be something to help you get through the winter months?  Or if you don’t fancy taking photos, how about writing a note in a diary or think through three things you’re grateful for in your day before you close your eyes to sleep?  I do this and find there’s usually plenty to remember; even at the end of a tough day I can always find something to be grateful for, and those are the days I find it especially helpful to do this.

Stretching/yoga/pilates

580928 32800282 Yoga 300x200 Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies...?Many people swear by yoga to help them relax and incorporating it into your day might give you some lovely me-time!  If I get fed up of my daily physio, I re-label it to Pilates and let myself feel virtuous! icon wink Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies...?  It involves some stretching and though I don’t always feel like doing it when I get up, it does usually help to wake me up – along with a big glass of water.  Some stretches before bed might also help you get ready for sleep?  See what works for you…

Relaxation Moment

How many times do you catch yourself during a frantic day thinking ‘gosh if only I had a minute to breathe!’?  Could you give yourself ten minutes in the morning or at the end of the day before you go to sleep?  Some people find it helpful to have a guided meditation; you might just want to sit and listen to some soothing music for ten minutes and focus on your breathing.  I’ve started to do this recently, tacked on to the end of my physio session.  I do a short session from a CD I have – just paying attention to the different parts of my body and breathing, letting tension go.  I recommend it! icon smile Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies...?

Are you struggling with the idea of a block of ten minutes?  How about Just A Minute, a few times a day?  Let me know if you try this one – I might swap my morning ten minutes!

Winter skin wonder

How long do you spend on your face on a morning or night? It is, after all, the most exposed part of our bodies and a little TLC for your face might be good to help you relax too!  Maybe take a few more minutes to massage moisturiser in to your skin or use a scrub or face mask to be a little more indulgent?  You could try to slow down and really pay attention to what you’re doing.  Have you tried this technique?  What do you think of it?  I gave this a go last night and was amazed by how busy my brain is – making random observations, remembering things I must do, wondering how someone’s doing… argh! icon wink Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies...?  Whilst I’ve heard this isn’t an easy thing to master, there are many who believe that mindfulness is very beneficial – I found this Guardian article a well-balanced overview of its use.

Hot chocolate and a mag

As it says on the tin! icon smile Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies...?  Preferably while wrapped up in a snuggly blanket, or sitting out in the sunshine in warmer weather.

Creative flair

sadlightblog craft box 300x300 Feeling Autumnal? Is it time to start thinking SAD strategies...?Take your pick – something you enjoy that absorbs you.  Treat yourself to ten minutes towards a creative project like knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, card-making… ideally something you can pick up and put down without needing to do a lot of space preparation.

You could even combine these ‘me minutes’ if you fancy a longer indulgence one day, or do different ones on different days?

There isn’t a ‘cure’ for SAD; we know this.  While I’ll always advocate trying light therapy as a first line management strategy (after diagnosis from a doctor), I think a little TLC for yourself also goes a long way.  Many SAD and winter blues sufferers can feel like they are ‘on edge’ – liable to snap or have a tearful episode with little provocation and I believe it’s because we’re often asking too much of ourselves.  We expect to keep giving out all year round – our hard work, love, kindness – and often give ourselves no time to replenish ourselves.

So, can you take ten minutes each day to yourself?  If you’re saying no, can you gently ask yourself why not?  Would you give ten minutes to a friend?  If your boss asked you to stay behind ten minutes, would you say no?  I understand that when life feels frantic with work, family, study, running the house and caring for others, it can feel like taking some time for yourself is that last thing on the ‘to do’ list – you know, that task that you never quite get round to?  But it can end up making you feel resentful which is never pleasant for you, because then you often wind up feeling guilty for feeling that way.  If you can’t do every day how about every other day?

If you’re thinking that you can spend ten minutes on yourself, then now’s a great time to start that new habit; a new management strategy for helping you through Winter Blues or SAD symptoms.

If you’re reading this with a partner or family member in mind, I’m sure they’ll be very grateful if you could offer to help them carve ten minutes out of their day for them – maybe by offering to do the washing up, read the kids a story, do the food shopping…

Can you recommend any other activities we could fill our ten ‘me minutes’ with?  Let me know if you decide to do any of these things and how you get on?

- Neens -

Image credit: Yoga - http://www.freeimages.com/photo/580928

Pinch and a punch… time to shake off those SAD blahs?

Hello! We’ve made it to March – finally! icon smile Pinch and a punch... time to shake off those SAD blahs?

If like me, you’ve been struggling with your Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or Winter Blues symptoms then please join me in doing a little victory dance!

daffodil 1024x1024 Pinch and a punch... time to shake off those SAD blahs?

I wasn’t prepared for struggling with my symptoms again.  Every single year I seem to forget that I find February the most difficult month.  My light therapy lamp helps, but a busy schedule at work – so not getting out in natural daylight – doesn’t!  I know this and yet I still opt to eat at my desk, thinking ‘I’ve nothing I need to go out for’!  Sound familiar?  How’ve you been doing with your symptoms this year?

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New Year reflecting and planning: as a SAD sufferer do you wait or do it now?

Hello there!  Happy New Year! icon smile New Year reflecting and planning: as a SAD sufferer do you wait or do it now?

IMG 20131217 084421 300x300 New Year reflecting and planning: as a SAD sufferer do you wait or do it now?How do you feel around this time of year?  Are you looking back on the last year with satisfaction, eagerly anticipating the coming year?  Or maybe you’re glad to see the back of 2013?  Do you feel anxious about what 2014 has in store?

This time of the year is traditionally associated with reflection and making resolutions.  But whether that is a positive or negative experience for you seems to depend less on what has actually passed – more on your attitude.  And if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Winter Blues or other depressive or anxiety conditions, then your attitude to both past and future might be influenced by this.

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Life gets in the way… and re-framing

Hello stranger!

Oh, wait!  Nope – it’s me that’s been away, isn’t it?  I really hope you’re doing okay and that this summer has helped you feel better?  Have you started hunkering down for autumn yet?  I can barely believe we’re into October and I’m looking at how few posts I’ve added this year and feeling guilty.  I’m really sorry that I haven’t kept to my original intention to post every few weeks.  I’ve strayed pretty far from that goal this year, haven’t I? icon sad Life gets in the way... and re framing

I was discussing the reasons for this with a friend a few months ago and he encouraged me to be honest and dare to be a little more personal in my posts.  I haven’t taken his advice until now because, being honest, life’s been manic and I haven’t been in a good place to write.  It’s also a bit scary because I don’t want to be too personal or come across as self-indulgent without giving you something of use.  That’s not the point of this blog.  But having said that, I did say I would offer a more personal perspective on living with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

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Weather aversion therapy for SAD!

Gallery

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Hi everyone! I hope that your SAD or Winter Blues symptoms are starting to ease now with the longer days and the sunnier weather we’ve been enjoying recently?  Have you been experiencing any hypomania? I have been so busy that … Continue reading