Picture the scene

It's one we can all identify with, at some level: late October. The clocks have gone back. The mornings are colder and certainly looking darker. Light itself feels like a precious and endangered thing. A shift is under way. Marked by a downturn in energy and mood, it's tougher to get up for work, and it feels harder to think clearly or to muster much in the way of enthusiasm. During the worst spells, there's an unmistakable feeling of sinking ...

The Living with SAD research project enters the lived experience of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Feelings associated with the changing seasons, and moods that seem to be governed by the nature of the weather overhead and related qualities of natural light, are a phenomenon known to us all. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is an intensified form of this lived experience that, for considerable numbers of people in the UK, can be debilitating and limiting, resulting in emotional challenges, lowered mood, and feelings of anxiety.

This research project enters the lived experience of SAD, seeking to examine its occurrence and impacts in individuals' life-worlds. Working closely with people who self-identify as experiencing depression on a SAD spectrum, the research team will develop narrative, creative and therapeutic-educational resources more fully to examine and reflect SAD experiences, and to build a self-help programme to be hosted by the NHS-approved website, 'Living Life to the Full', to which over 40,000 people register annually. The programme will offer a range of well-being interventions to mitigate against negative experiences of lightness-darkness and changing seasons, in both urban and rural environments.

Project Methods

The Big SAD Survey

cover photo of the big sad survey report An in depth qualitative, UK-wide survey about experiences of lowered wintertime mood and energy. An analysis of key emerging themes from the survey can be found in the survey report "Winter Worries", available for download from the University of Glasgow here.



Interviews about Seasonal Life

16 in-depth qualitative interviews with individuals experiencing SAD to understand the annual and life-course experiences of severe wintertime affect. Interviews will be followed by a series of 'seasonal chats' to explore seasonal changes in perceptions and mood among participants.

Seasonal diaries

An experimental method adapting time-space diaries to reflect on and notice the changing seasons.

'Wintering Well' workshop series

'Wintering Well' is a workshop series to be conducted in Glasgow to find ways to experience the shorter days and lowered light of winters differently. Over a series of 6 workshops throughout the winter season, participants will join in a range of creative outdoor activities, inviting personal responses to the weather, light and dark, the skies, and the seasons.

Each workshop will be led by a team of creative practitioners and university researchers interested in better understanding people’s everyday experiences of lowered wintertime mood and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Workshop participants will be invited to share and reflect on their own experiences to contribute toward the design of new resources for people whose lives are affected negatively by the winter season.