Now that we’re officially in winter, our thoughts may be turning to Christmas trees, mulled wine and twinkling lights. But the onset of the cold, dark days, long nights and dreariness equal the winter blues for many of us. This year especially, with the reality of living under the cloud of a global pandemic, things may feel even tougher.
The winter blues are otherwise known as SAD, or seasonal affective disorder and result in various symptoms including a low mood, feeling irritable, feeling worthless, losing interest in the thigs that would normally give us pleasure, feeling tired and low in energy and craving comfort foods and carbohydrates.
It’s thought that winter depression is caused in part by a lack of sunlight during the winter months. This can affect the way our body clock, or circadian rhythms, work, leading to a disruption in certain hormones called melatonin and serotonin. Together, these factors can cause the symptoms of SAD.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms and they’re severely affecting your quality of life, then speaking to your GP may be a good idea, as they may be able to offer you specific treatments. But if your symptoms are mild and you’re looking to manage them yourself, then the following tips may help:
1. The body manufactures vitamin D when sunlight hits the skin. During the autumn and winter, the NHS recommend that we take a daily 10mcg vitamin D supplement to make sure we don’t become deficient. Vitamin D is important for teeth and bone health, but it’s also important for our mental health too, so taking a daily supplement can help to manage the symptoms of SAD.
2. Since SAD is linked with a lack of daylight, using a lightbox can help. Lightboxes are designed to be used indoors to emulate daylight as they emit light of the same wavelength. Use one in your bedroom to gradually wake you up each morning or keep one next to your desk as you work.
3. Try getting outside in natural daylight as much as possible. Taking a walk at lunchtime for example, may help lift your mood.
4. When you are indoors, try to sit near a window so that you’re still exposed to natural daylight.
5. Try to take steps to minimise stress, that can make feeling blue feel even worse. Stress can be difficult to avoid, so if you can’t avoid it, try making time for things that nourish and relax you. This could be practicing yoga or mindfulness, spending time outside in nature, reading a good book or relaxing in the bath. One of our favourite ways to relax is to make a cup of camomile tea, let it cool to drinking temperature before adding a teaspoon of Necta & Hive Jarrah 15+ TA honey and taking it to bed for any early night!
6. It’s important to look after your physical health as well as your mental health, so make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible. This will help to support your immune health, and a healthy immune system means that you’ll be less likely to fall foul to energy sapping, exhausting winter bugs.
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