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Home / Advice / Depression / Navigating the Winter Blues: A Guide to Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in Ireland

Navigating the Winter Blues: A Guide to Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in Ireland

Updated: 22 January 2024

Navigating the Winter Blues: A Guide to Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in Ireland

With January settled in, the morning frost blankets the grass, temperatures plummet below zero, and daylight hours remain reduced. Many people find themselves confronted with a familiar foe – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also commonly known as the ‘winter-blues’ (though can occur during other seasons). The symptoms of SAD can be like Depression (low energy, feeling down, changes in sleeping & eating & lack of motivation) but only occur during a seasonal period. Some may have mild symptoms but for others, it can have a profound affect on their mental wellbeing. In this article, we'll explore how SAD impacts many in Ireland and provide practical tips to tackle this seasonal challenge. 

Irish weather is renowned for its unpredictability, and nothing preoccupies us more than talking about the weather! This along with about seven hours of sunlight on average during the winter months makes SAD particularly prevalent in this country. That being said, here are five tips to tackle SAD:

Embrace the Outdoors, Despite of the Weather: 

In a country where rain is no stranger, it's crucial to resist the temptation to close the curtains and hibernate indoors safe from the cold and rain. Layer up, put on the wellies if needs be and engage in outdoor activities. One obvious benefit of getting outside for a walk is physical exercise but perhaps a less obvious benefit is the wonderful effect natural light has on our circadian rhythm and vitamin D levels.

Prioritise Vitamin D Intake: 

The limited sunlight during winter may contribute to lower levels of Vitamin D in individuals which can exacerbate SAD symptoms. Include Vitamin D-rich foods in your diet such as fatty fish (tuna and salmon), red meat, eggs, and fortified dairy products (cow’s milk).

Establish a Consistent Sleep Routine: 

One of the most challenging symptoms of SAD is disrupted sleep which can lead to fatigue, low energy, and mood swings. Implementing a consistent sleep routine where there are set activities you do in the same order each night before going asleep can help provide a foundation for sufficient rest. Decide on a bedtime and wake time that are conducive to you schedule and stick to them every day including weekends. Create a calming environment to signal to your body that it's time to wind down i.e. remove clutter, darkening the room, turning off electronics, meditation and/or reading. The final step of your routine should always be getting into bed and do nothing else other than try to fall asleep. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy 

Research shows that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be effective in reducing the recurrence of SAD. It can help the person to identify their unhelpful thoughts and then work towards restructuring them into more positive ones. Another useful CBT technique for SAD is behavioural activation. This encourages the person to engage in activities that provide a sense of achievement or accomplishment as well as reduce their tendency to withdraw. 

Relaxation and Mindfulness 

Mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation are useful tools which can help reduce anxiety caused by SAD. Practicing daily mindfulness can help us to be present and name the emotions we are experiencing rather than suppressing or encouraging them. By allowing yourself to feel and acknowledge your worries, frustrations, and other difficult emotions, they can begin to dissipate.  

Addressing Seasonal Affective Disorder through pro-active self-care is pivotal in navigating the challenges it poses. Incorporating daily exposure to natural light through getting outdoors can significantly help alleviate symptoms. Why not go walking with a friend so you can foster social connections as well! Keep a journal and note down triggers and responses – the power of self-awareness cannot be overstated.

By implementing these tips consistently, not only could you mitigate some of the symptoms of SAD, but you will also enhance your overall wellbeing. Remember, in the darker seasons, intentional and purposeful self-care is an invaluable tool in your journey toward feeling better! 


Deirdre O'Reardon Psychotherapist Location: Cork

Approach: Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Anxiety , Bereavement / Loss , Depression , Personal Development , Self Care , Stress , Trauma , Work Issues, Work/Life balance

Next avaialble appointment: 17:00 27 May 2024

Michelle Fitzgerald Counsellor Location: Online

Approach: Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Psychodynamic Therapy , Internal Family Systems

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Addiction , Anger , Anxiety , Bereavement / Loss , Depression , Domestic Violence / Abuse , Eating Disorder / Body Image , Isolation / Loneliness , Obsessive Compulsive Disorder , Personal Development , Personality disorder , Relationship issues , Self Care , Self-Esteem , Sexuality (LGBTQIA+) , Stress , Suicidal Ideation / Self Harm , Trauma , Work Issues, Work/Life balance

Next avaialble appointment: 12:00 28 May 2024

Greta Connolly Psychotherapist Location: Cork

Approach: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) , Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Mindfulness , Person-Centred Therapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Anger , Anxiety , Bereavement / Loss , Depression , Personal Development , Relationship issues , Self Care , Self-Esteem , Work Issues, Work/Life balance

Next avaialble appointment: 17:00 27 May 2024


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