Are you Suffering with the Winter Blues?
Suffering with the Winter Blues?
The other day the weather was horrible; armed with my umbrella, looking at the grey sky, nearly bare trees and feeling rather cold, I thought to myself for the first time this year – I hate Winter! I felt cold and irritable.
For most of us this time of year affects in some way, we can become more tired and bad-tempered. However for some, symptoms can be more debilitating affecting
everyday life such as low mood, anxiety, lack of concentration, tiredness, mood changes, lack of energy and sleep problems. If you experience some or all of these symptoms with a seasonal pattern (usually need to be suffering for 2 or 3 years) you could be suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Whether you are suffering from a little bit of the ‘Winter Blues’ or SAD, here are some things that can help:
1. Light Therapy
Let’s be honest who likes waking up, going to work in the dark and returning home also in the dark?
There is a reason for this:
The amount of sunlight you receive affects some of your body’s hormones and the chemicals in the brain. It is thought that light stimulates a specific part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which with lack of sunlight does not function properly
affecting the production of the hormones melatonin (affects sleep) and serotonin (the ‘happy’ hormone).
A light therapy desk lamp can be a good alternative to a light box (depending on severity of symptoms). This can be used in your study and some are small enough to take with you to work. Try to use it for at least 1 hour a day. Light therapy is supposed to replicate sunlight. Ensure the bulb emits 10000 lux, otherwise results will not be
To help wake refreshed in the dark mornings, try a natural sunrise alarm clock. These vary in cost and function, however generally some time before your alarm is set to wake you up, the clock will start to emit light – designed to replicate a sunrise and wake you more naturally.
A cheaper option is to ensure you go for a walk in the middle of the day to be exposed to as much natural sunlight as possible (weather dependent of course)! Generally this will boost your mood as well – double win!
2. Vitamins and Diet
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because your body can make it
by synthesizing cholesterol while absorbing natural sunshine. It’s been proven to improve moods with as little as 10 minutes of sun exposure. In winter months (and maybe in England in general) we do not get enough Vitamin D due to reduced exposure to
sunlight. You can buy a Vitamin D supplement from any good health store.
Other supplements that are thought to influence your mood are Vitamin B12 and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Purchase a good multi B vitamin and ensure your Omega 3 is high in EPA.
Magnesium can improve sleep and reduce anxiety, try introducing it before bedtime.
5-HTP is the precursor of serotonin and has been suggested to help low mood. Make sure to read the label carefully as it may not be suitable for everyone.
What you eat can have a massive affect on your mood and energy levels. Avoid refined and processed foods; try to increase your intake of vegetables, fruit, and brown rice. Try to limit or reduce your sugar intake.
Tip: try swapping your salads for soups –eating warm food will help you feel
comforted without the sugar! Very good for the winter blues!
This suggestion seems to feature in everything I write – exercise helps reduce stress levels and releases those ‘feel good’ chemicals, so why not?!
4. Extra Support
Homeopathy can be a useful support, contact me for further details.
Otherwise you could try counseling, psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioral
There is a charity called The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association that can provide articles, newsletters and advice about support groups.
If you have any other suggestions of how to help the winter blues please let me know, I would love to hear from you!
Until next week
M: 07789 007732