Seasonal Affective Disorder….5 ways to beat the winter blues
Have you found yourself full of energy during the warmer months but as the cold winter weather closes in, you begin to lack energy, sleep more and lose pleasure in things you would usually enjoy? There is a name for it… Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
According to Beyond Blue, the symptoms of SAD are much like depression – feeling hopeless, a lack of energy and changes in sleeping or eating patterns. Medical professionals put much of this disorder down to a lack of sunlight.
Less sunlight can mean our bodies produce less melatonin, the hormone that aids sleep. Less sun can also mean less serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and appetite as well as sleep. Sunlight also affects our internal body clocks.
While SAD is rare in Australia, many people do report feeling flat and lethargic during the cooler months of autumn and winter. Of course, if these feelings are chronic and persistent, it is best to seek professional health advice, but for many of us some simple actions can help to keep the blues at bay.
1. Bask in the sun
Make an effort to go outside more often. It can be as simple as sipping your morning cuppa on a park bench. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin and is essential for building healthy bones, strong muscles and overall health.
However too much sun exposure will increase your risk of skin cancer. On sunny days, maybe enjoy a walk, run or cycle alone or with company.
Keeping your home as light as possible and sitting close to the window more often can help with your general wellbeing during these cooler months.
2. Keep up the exercise
Exercise does not need to be extremely vigorous to be helpful for depression – a brisk walk each day can be beneficial. If the weather is gloomy, indoor exercise can help too. Be it yoga or maybe even a deep clean of your house for a ‘light’ workout!
3. Ensure good sleeping habits
To drift off into a restful sleep: keep a regular bed time, avoid stimulants before bed (yes, being on social media on your mobile counts) and get plenty of exercise during the day. Give yourself time to wind down from the day’s activities.
4. Eat healthy winter foods
Eating ‘happy foods’ can positively impact our moods. Nutritional studies suggest a diet including Omega-3 fatty acids and gut-friendly foods boosts mood regulation. We also know that grandma knows best. That warm cup of milk before bed may do the trick as well.
5. Find time for relaxation
Make time in your day or week to relax – take a nice warm bath, try some guided meditation or something that relaxes you. This is particularly important if you find your mind racing constantly and hard to settle into a good rest.
As humans, we are born social beings hence having a good support outlet for our feelings is essential to our wellbeing. Solitary confinement would not be considered a form of torture if this is not the case, right?
Taking these tips on board can help keep your health and wellbeing in check at any time of the year but may just help brighten your cold winter days.
Remember, not only are adults affected by SAD but children are too! So if you see young ones in your family a little ‘less themselves’, take them out into the open air and have some fun together! Having an icy cold gelato snuggled up on a picnic rug and having the chill air blowing on your face can be kind of fun for the family too.