If you, like me, are one of the 20 per cent of people in the UK experience the mild symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or ‘winter blues’ it can be a bit debilitating but not serious. For two per cent of sufferers SAD is a disabling illness which requires treatment.
Lack of light during the mid-winter season causes an increase in melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy at night, and a decrease in the production of serotonin which can lead to low-mood. It is often treated using light therapy which involves using a light box which emits light at a high intensity. The treatment takes between thirty minutes to an hour a day.
If your symptoms of the winter blues are mild, here are my five top tips for actions you can take:
- Go outside for 30 minutes during the middle of the day. The exposure to sunlight will boost your production of Vitamin D and strengthen your heart
- Take regular exercise. This will release endorphins and dopamine into your system which will increase your ‘feel good’ factor.
- Do something that makes you laugh for at least five minutes every day. That could be laughing with a friend, watching a funny film clip or reading a humorous book. Laughing releases serotonin into your blood which will raise your mood
- Avoid processed foods and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. This will help to smooth out the peaks and troughs in your mood.
- Most importantly – have a hug! Hugging someone you like or love releases oxytocin into your blood stream which will lower the internal inflammation that is associated with stress.
Take action and lighten up those winter blues
For more advice go to www.sada.org.uk or http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/pages/introduction.aspx