As a sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) I’m very aware of the changes in the season, the lack of natural daylight at this time of the year and how this affects my motivation and output.
I was also aware of how much this also affected the children during winter months. As a home educating family we were able to spend more time outside than many and a spell of outdoor activity made a marked difference in the children’s energy and enthusiasm, even in winter, and consequently their motivation to work when we got back in!
We perhaps don’t pay as much attention as we should to our children’s mental wellbeing, or the effect the season has on their performance, especially if our children seem okay, are happy and thriving and achieving. But it’s worth noting that children can be as much affected by SAD as adults can as well as other types of depression.
There has been an increase in cases of mental health issues among children and young people, according to Young Minds the charity for young people’s mental health, yet according to the BBC news there’s decrease in funding to support them. So we perhaps need to do as much as we can to encourage a lifestyle that supports mental wellbeing as well as physical. For what might start as a mild case of ‘winter blues’ can escalate into a more serious depression.
Both Mind, the charity for mental health, and the NHS recommend ways to help ourselves manage SAD by:
- getting as much natural light as possible,
- keeping active, fit and eating well,
- keeping warm and being busy – perhaps taking up a new interest that engages the mind as well as the body,
- maintaining a good support network of friends and social activities,
- talking about it with others who are empathetic,
- using support groups – check online,
- some SAD sufferers find light therapy helps specifically with this condition.
However, all these recommendations also serve to maintain a healthy overall lifestyle and promote mental wellbeing so are worth investing time in as a family.