What is SAD and how does it affect us?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a kind of season related depression that can occur as the days begin to get shorter and we don’t have as much natural sunlight.
This can lead to…
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Tiredness or low energy and low mood
So why is this happening?
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm) is disrupted. The reduced level of sunlight in autumn and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels can drop. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels change. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
Everyone who knows me knows that I’m solar powered! I find winter a challenge, and I have to do all I can to keep myself warm and happy! So what to do?
Here are my top tips to stave off SAD this winter!
- Keep active. A daily walk in the middle of the day is great for coping with the winter blues. Get outside as much as possible, especially if it’s sunny. Gentle movement is a proven way to boost your mood. If you can’t get outside, sit near a window.
- Keep warm. Being cold can make you feel worse, so stay cosy and wrap up well indoors and out. Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food. A blanket on the sofa when indoors is soooo comforting. Keep your living room nice and warm.
- Eat healthily. A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Veggie soup and apple crumble – yum.
- See your friends and family. It’s well known that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.
- Take up a new hobby. Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to be helpful, playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym or Yoga class, keeping a journal, or writing a blog – whatever floats your boat!
- Do Yoga. A little home practice and/or weekly slow Yoga class can help to boost your energy levels and calm the nervous system, helping you to feel into yourself with warmth and compassion. Moving slowly and mindfully helps by producing a positive feelgood feedback loop from body to brain, and then back again (clever neuro-chemicals…) Yay!
- Buy a lightbox and have at least 40 mins in the morning or during the day if possible- it can make a huge difference (I’m a convert…) Light therapy has been proven to significantly improve SAD
Enjoy the peace and calm that winter can bring! Be open to the flow… this is the opposite to resistance… Breathe with an inner smile, open and expansive. Notice the tendency for you to want things to be other than they are – and welcome this too! Tis’ the season to reflect, take stock, nourish and care for ourselves… Permission for long warm evening baths with a few drops of invigorating Black Pepper and Basil essential oils to ease your body. Or some Eucalyptus and Rosemary to clear the head. Maybe some Lavender for a restful sleep and to balance the emotions. Oil your body afterwards to soothe the nervous system and replenish moisture. Read books, get an early night. Book a massage. Research your next holiday… Accept winter, and enjoy what comes…
My Lumie Lightbox – Brightspark. Love it!
My Lumie lightbox was a present and it makes me happy every winters day! Mind you I still have off days, but nothing like before… 10,000 Lux when used at arms length – fab!
I get up at 6am every morning, so the first couple of hours are spent with this little beauty shining in my eyes wherever possible! It makes a great reading light, and can sit by your laptop while you attend to business. And it will sit happily in the corner shining upon you while you pretend to be doing your Yoga practice (with eyes closed) on a tropical beach…. (when it’s -5 and dark outside…. lol…)
I hope you manage to stay warm, cosy and well this winter. But if it’s all just a bit tooo much, please give me a call.
The other thing that’s great for low mood is giving yourself some “me time”
That could be as simple as a warm and soothing massage therapy…. Or maybe you want to have a lifestyle overhaul with a ThaiVedic Yoga session now that you have the time to spend making changes to your diet, lifestyle, exercise and relaxation regimes. Come and join us at Yoga class for starters!
Get in touch with any questions – I’m here to help…
07733 266487 firstname.lastname@example.org
Next blog post – Kapha Dosha and winter – an Ayurvedic take on the changing seasons..