How to Beat the Winter Blues
When the days are short and the temperatures are cold, many of us want to stay in bed a little longer and go outside a lot less. However there is a few that are particularly effected by the change of weather, those who suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that people experience at particular times of year – most commonly during winter - which can have a large effect on everyday life.
What can I do to help SAD?
Below are some tips from the mental health charity Mind on what you can do to help beat the winter blues.
Being outside does not necessarily cure symptoms of SAD, as there are still many people that work outside that can suffer from it. However wrapping up warm and getting out for a walk on a sunny day can improve serotonin levels and improve your mood, it is most effective around midday when the sun is brightest so try getting out on your lunch break.
Following on from getting outside, regular exercise in the outdoors can boost your mood as well as improve sleep and self-esteem – which are also symptoms of SAD.
Try Light Therapy
We know that in winter there are days where it seems like the sun doesn’t come up at all. On these days, you may want to try light therapy instead. This therapy works by aiming to replace the missing daylight by using a bright light that mimic outdoor natural light. There are two different types of light therapy; a light box – which delivers light up to ten times the intensity of the average household bulb, whilst filtering out harmful UV rays, or a dawn simulator – a device that acts as an alarm clock, but rather than waking you abruptly with music or beeping, it produces light gradually like a rising sun.
Eat a Balanced Diet
The temptation to give in to comfort foods full of sugar and carbohydrates can increase with symptoms of SAD, however resisting these cravings and eating a balanced diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables can help boost energy and reduce mood swings. To help boost serotonin levels try including more complex carbs such as oats, wholegrain bread, brown rice and bananas in your diet.
Supplement with vitamin D
Season Affective Disorder has been linked to low levels of vitamin D, therefore supplementing with the vitamin may improve symptoms. Vitamin D also has a range of other benefits such as boosting the immune system and contributing to normal bone, heart and muscle health. As we get most of our vitamin D from natural sunlight, it is recommended to supplement during the winter months.