How are you this week?
I hope all is good – but if you’re not all good just know that you’re not alone!
Many people at the minute myself included are struggling with the effects of winter coming in
(Colds, flu’s etc. all flying about!)
Or maybe, you are just feeling flat, low mood, lacking energy & craving those fatty, carb-rich foods?
If this sounds familiar – YOU are also not alone!
This has been a recurring feeling amongst many friends and clients at the moment which is what has prompted the topic of today’s email.
SAD – SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Many of us will feel low now and then in the colder, darker months, which isn’t in itself a mental health problem.
But SAD is a recognized condition that can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of low mood related to changing daylight hours, sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and severe during the winter.
The main theory is that a lack of sunlight stops a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the:
Production of melatonin – melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people suffering with SAD, the body may produce it in higher-than-normal levels
Production of serotonin – serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite, and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels.
Body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) – your body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up, so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD
Symptoms of SAD can include:
- a persistent low mood
- a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
- sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
- craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
- difficulty concentrating
- decreased sex drive
If the winter blues are here and you are feeling some of the symptoms above here are some top tips to help you.
- GET ACTIVE.
Physical activity either in a gym, or out for a walk-in nature, particularly around midday or on sunny days, can be effective in reducing symptoms - even if it’s just taking a short stroll at lunch. It can be hard to resist the urge to stay under the duvet when it’s cold and dark outside, but research shows that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression. It can also help you sleep better, which in itself boosts your mood.
- EAT WELL.
It’s always tempting to reach for your favourite comfort foods when you want to cheer yourself up but eating a healthy and balanced diet can be as good for your mental health as it is for your physical health. At this time of year, there is a tendency for many of us to increase the amount of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol in our diets but stimulants such as these can make feelings of anxiety and stress worse and leave you feeling lethargic. Eating lots of foods high in fat and carbohydrate can cause your blood sugar to crash, resulting in sluggishness. Try to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and fatty oils like omega 3 and 6 from foods like oily fish, seeds, and nuts in your diet.
Cold weather can make us less likely to socialise with others, especially if we live alone and want to stay cosy indoors. If you are struggling with a mental health problem like depression, withdrawing from friends and family can be both a symptom and a cause of poor mental health. Having contact with people can have a big impact on improving our mood, so try to make plans to see people. Doing activities during the day, when it’s warmer and lighter, can be beneficial. If you don’t feel able to leave the house try to speak on the phone or invite someone over.
- LIGHT THERAPY.
Light therapy involves daily exposure to a very bright specialist light, usually for a short length of time per day. The reason this can make a difference is that when light hits the retina at the back of our eye, it passes messages to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is responsible for things like mood, sleep, appetite, temperature, and sex drive. Some people need more light than others to function normally, meaning that the darker months can make them more likely to develop SAD. You might also consider something as simple as working near a window or in a brighter area.
- SPEAK TO SOMEONE.
Talk to your/a therapist or reach out to someone if you’ve noticed drastic changes to your feelings, thoughts and behaviour that last longer than two weeks or keep returning. Perhaps you’re feeling tearful, irritable, or have lost interest in things you’ve previously enjoyed. Keep an eye out for changes to things like sleeping and eating. Reaching out to someone could help this experience from prolonging or getting worse over time.
These symptoms are a signal,, a message from the mind of issues you may be avoiding.
Facing them is always a better solution.
I hope this has helped you in some way today.
- Nothing lasts forever!
- Everything can & will change.
- You’ve overcome challenges before, in fact you’ve overcome every challenge you’ve ever had!
- This can be a learning experience – as yourself, what is this teaching me?
- Allow yourself to have some fun!
- Be kind to yourself – it's the best medicine!
Lastly... Even when it's tough to find - there is always, always something to be grateful for ?
What are YOU grateful for today?
(Send me yours back if you like!)