As the nights draw in, it is estimated that around one in 15 of us in the UK will suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but what few of us realise is that the winter blues – as it is known – can also cost us money!
Also known as SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that can be serious in a few cases, but which for most of us manifests itself as a mild sadness called the winter blues. We long for sunny days and warmth and if we cannot manage to escape to warmer places on holiday, we generally just put up with it.
What we might also do, without realising it, is spend more money in a subconscious effort to chase away the winter blues.
A study at Harvard University revealed that when we are feeling low, we’re more likely to give up a larger future benefit in favour of a small, immediate reward right now. The result is that when it’s dark and rainy and generally miserable outside, you are much more likely to abandon your efforts to save or pay off your credit card bills in favour of immediate spending on little ‘treats’ which you will probably enjoy for only a short amount of time. Another study revealed that people who were feeling sad would, on average, pay 300% more for the same commodity than people who were in a neutral mood.
The fact that we’re faced with all the marketing power of the pre-Christmas season for much of the winter really doesn’t help when it comes to sticking to our plans to put money towards a special goal we have set for ourselves or paying off debts and building future wealth.
Of course, at Serenity we definitely believe in balance, which means using the resources you have to enjoy your present and your future. But a few simple tricks can help you to reduce the effects of SAD that have you spending money on things which will not bring any meaningful benefits.
Get outside: even though it might be cloudy, getting outside into daylight for half an hour a day, ideally in the middle of the day, can help.
Exercise: Whether it’s a daily walk or a fitness class, regular exercise is the best nature has to offer when it comes to beating depression.
Meditate: Mindfulness and meditation has been shown in many studies to help reduce depression and anxiety. There are plenty of free tapes and resources online and a great guide to getting started at www.mindful.org
See friends: Spending time with people you like is another simple activity which research shows time and time again is a really powerful way to lift the mood and to keep you feeling happier. Do bear in mind, it works best face to face — a quick chat on Facebook isn’t the same.
For more information and resources visit www.sada.org.uk