12 ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

1. Make the most of natural light. People who work outside can experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms, but going outside, especially at noon and on bright days, can help to reduce symptoms.

2. Avoid stress. Try to plan ahead to reduce the amount of stressful activities you have and try to schedule challenging jobs for the summer if you can, such as changing jobs, moving home or doing decorating.

3. Exercise. You may not feel like it at the time, but physical activity can be effective at lifting your mood and increasing energy levels. Even doing housework, gardening or going for a gentle walk can help.

4. Try to avoid lie-ins – they can disrupt your body clock and trigger headaches. Get up at your usual time and get more sleep by going to bed earlier.

5. Get ready for the weather. They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes, so invest in some stylish woollies, a good winter coat and good boots that will keep your feet warm.

6. Eat properly. Try to balance the common SAD craving for carbohydrates such as pasta and potatoes with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Taking extra vitamin B12 can be helpful.

7. Using a light box can be an effective treatment for SAD as it increases your exposure to light during the winter months. They are at least 10 times the intensity of household lights and are available in different strengths and sizes.

8. If you suffer from SAD, consider joining a support group as sharing your experience with others who know what it’s like can be very therapeutic.

9. Get ready for dealing with the journey to work – buy an ice scraper so that you can get the windscreen clear in the morning without too much trouble.

10. Look after your hands. Prevent chapped skin with loads of hand cream and invest in a pair of gloves to keep your fingers from getting cold. If you can afford it, leather is naturally water repellent and will keep your hands warmers than fabric or knit.

11. Delay young children’s bedtime routines for a day or two beforehand, so that they adapt to the new bedtime. Consider using blackout blinds so that they aren’t disturbed by the brighter morning light.

12. Aim to carry out the same series of steps every night to allow your child to wind down – for example, a warm relaxing bath, a story and dimming the lights.