Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during the winter months when there is less sunlight. Symptoms of SAD include feeling depressed, tired, and lethargic, having difficulty concentrating, and experiencing a low mood. According to the NHS, 1 in 15 of us will be affected in the UK.
Our 24 hour body clock is regulated by light going through our eyes to the brain, which in turn affects our metabolic functioning such as appetite, sleep and exercise patterns.
Here are some tips to help alleviate the symptoms of SAD:
Light therapy: Light therapy involves exposure to bright light to improve mood. It is recommended to use a lightbox that emits 10,000 lux of light for 30 minutes each day. Getting outside as early as you can in the morning can help regulate your body clock, even on a cloudy day.
Healthy diet: Eating foods rich in Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and folic acid can help improve mood. These include fatty fish, eggs, green leafy veg, peppers, nuts and seeds. A combination of protein and carbs are needed to support serotonin production in the brain, which can help balance mood.
Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve mood and reduce stress, and produced BDNF - brain derived neurotrophic factor, which can help grow new brain cells. Even 15 min walk is proven to provide benefits.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation can help reduce stress and improve mood. Apps such as Headspace and Calm can be a great introduction to calming a busy mind.
Maintain your social connections. We might feel like hibernating and with spending more time indoors, there are less opportunities to socialise. How can you create a situation for face to face contact rather than the virtual world? Do you have any hobbies or activities you used to enjoy that you don’t practice? Finding your trip through a shared purpose can help reconnect with fun and play, essential for long term mental health.
Not sure where to start? Arrange a call to see how we can help.