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10 Ways to Beat ADHD Winter Blues

People with ADHD are prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is triggered by the change in the season and reduced hours of daylight over the autumn and winter. Here are eight suggestions to keep you going throughout the winter and beat the ADHD winter blues.
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10 Ways to Beat ADHD Winter Blues

17/12/2020
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It’s estimated that 27% of people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are also affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition can lead to a number of symptoms including melancholy, anxiety, lethargy, sleeping problems, change to appetite and depression. SAD is triggered by the change in the season and reduced hours of daylight that occur in the autumn and continue through the winter. 

If you are affected by ADHD combined with SAD, you should always seek professional support. However, there are a few things you can try to beat the winter blues. Here are ten suggestions to keep you going throughout the winter: 

Get Outdoors Every Day

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It’s thought that low levels of vitamin D can contribute to SAD, so it’s important to get outside every day, no matter what the weather is like. Research shows that spending time in Green Space is really beneficial for someone with symptoms of ADHD. Even if you can’t be somewhere ‘green’, just being outside is better than staying inside. Simply building a short walk into your morning routine can positively impact how you feel. In fact, it’s better to do it early on in the day, so that then it’s done and you won’t procrastinate about it. Just remember to wrap up warm in cold weather!

Stick To Your Sleep Routine

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Sleep disturbances are common in people with SAD and ADHD. Changes in darkness and light can cause havoc with someone’s sleep routine. There are a number of ways to practise good sleep hygiene such as reducing caffeine in the evening, avoiding bright lights before bedtime and following a regular routine. For more information about ADHD sleep problems have a look at our blog Healthy Sleep For ADHD: Finding Balance And Improving Well-Being

A change will do you good

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A change of scene can have a really positive impact on your outlook. Even small changes such as sitting in a different room or re-arranging the furniture can make a big difference to how you feel. You may want to consider refreshing a room by painting it a new colour, changing the curtains or other accessories such as wall decor or lighting. A new project like this will give you an optimistic new focus and keep you busy. You could also visit somewhere new or catch up on a book you’ve been meaning to finish for ages.

Check your medication

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If you take medication for ADHD, make sure you monitor your dosage carefully. Be sure to consider the effect of medication on your mood and ADHD symptoms, even if you have been medicated for a while. Remember it can take a few attempts to find the correct dosage of the most suitable medication for you and your requirements can change over time. If you have any doubts, please discuss them with a qualified professional.

Schedule regular exercise

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Exercise acts as a natural medicine for ADHD symptoms because it works the brain as well as the body. It’s all too easy during the colder part of the year not to exercise as much so make sure you build it into your routine. You are more likely to participate if you have paid in advance for a sports membership or exercise class or if you exercise with a friend. Many people, understandably, don’t enjoy outdoor winter exercise but there are many indoor options available. Remember to keep an eye out for special New Year offers around January when people are motivated to try something new.

Get planning

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It’s good for us to have something to look forward to, even if it’s something relatively small. Arrange to meet up with friends or family and start booking a few events. Check out what’s on in your local area at theatres and other entertainment venues. Find out if there are any seasonal markets or outdoor venues such as ice-rinks that are open. You may want to start researching travel options and book a holiday for the future. Just knowing that you have plans in place can make you feel more optimistic.

Practice Mindfulness

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Mindfulness is a way to bring your thoughts back to the present moment and is a recommended treatment for ADHD. It reduces stress and anxiety and enables more effective concentration. Like any new skill, it takes a little time to perfect and it isn’t for everybody. At the ADHD Centre, we have a short six-part mindfulness course. Click here to learn more and to access the first lesson for free: Essential Mindfulness Course

Use Technology

There are millions of apps and other forms of technology that can support people in managing ADHD symptoms. There are apps that help with organisation and time management, mindfulness apps to help you relax, project management apps, apps for music that help you to be productive and many, many more. Installing and using new ADHD-friendly technology will not only help you to manage symptoms of ADHD, but it can be a lot of fun too. Our blog Study Skills Tips For Adults With ADHD has suggestions for assistive technology that you can use throughout your daily life – not just for studying.

Save Money

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In the current economic climate, money is a very sensitive subject. However, managing to save or make a little extra can be really satisfying. The following ideas are not new, but might help you to save some money and will hopefully make you feel good too:

  • Reduce your energy usage by using your heating more effectively 
  • Reduce cooking costs by using a slow cooker or air fryer 
  • Only use your washing machine when you have a full load. Try using economy setting or a quick wash option if available.
  • Are there any items around your home that you can sell to make some quick cash? This is a great way to make additional money, clear some clutter, contribute towards helping the environment and feel good that you are helping someone. 
  • Switch your supermarket; this makes meals more interesting and might save you some money too, especially if you plan your meals more carefully so there is less waste. 
  • Batch cooking to save time, energy and create less food waste.

Feeling like you are saving money will definitely give you a positive boost at a time when everything is getting so much more expensive. If you’re interested in learning more about money management, you might find our blog useful: 8 Ways To Manage Money With ADHD

Seek help

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Seasonal depression and general feelings of sadness and melancholy are not unusual in the winter and if you’re feeling this way, the chances are that it will pass. However, it’s important that you listen to your brain. If these feelings are more pronounced than usual, please don’t suffer in silence. It’s essential that you seek help in dealing with how you are feeling, especially if your symptoms are detrimental to your quality of life. Even opening up to a trusted friend or family member can help enormously. If you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling with procrastination, knowing that there is somebody who understands will make you feel better. If you are affected by seasonal depression, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and accept help.

If you would like some further guidance and support on managing your ADHD then please contact us at The ADHD Centre on 0800 061 4276 or via enquiries@adhdcentre.co.uk  We can provide you with an in-depth ADHD assessment to improve your understanding of the condition and to know what treatment method is fit for you.

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, here is a list of available Mental Health Charity Helplines that offer support.

Further reading

Depression: when it’s more than a symptom of ADHD

An ADHD Guide to Surviving Ol’ Man Winter

Seasonal Affective Disorder and the ADHD Brain

Seasonal Affective Disorder and ADHD: 4 Tips to Fight Depression

Updated December 2022

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