Top tips for beating the winter blues
By Charlotte Fantelli
For some, this time of year sees the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a
condition that can be a lot more debilitating than the term 'Winter blues' suggests, but there are ways we can help ourselves combat the condition.
1) Know the symptoms:
Winter months can make us all more tired and unsociable, however, SAD is likely to make a sufferer's everyday life more difficult.
Symptoms of SAD are akin to depression and can include: lethargy, loss of enthusiasm, difficulty concentrating, feeling sad, irritable, low and hopeless with or without accompanying anxiety, are common symptoms, that last for more than two weeks and generally get better as springtime comes.
2) Know your circadian rhythms (body clock)
Simply put, our bodies love routine. Eating, sleeping, working, resting - all the areas of our lives have a place and they should be done at certain times. Sleeping is the big one, in winter months we should be aiming to go to bed by 11.00pm and be up by 7.30am. We need to be getting between 7.5 and 9 hours per night.
3) Vitamin D
During the winter months we don't expose our skin to the sun very much and it is very hard for us to get enough vitamin D. You can take a supplement, but it is an idea to expose as much skin as you dare to the elements to maximise your exposure to sunlight the bodies biggest source of this vitamin.
It is important to get some exercise. It has been proven that exercise is an extremely effective tool against depression. There are some great video exercise games and fitness DVD's if you don't fancy a spot of yoga in the rain! Why not check out what your local leisure centre has to offer?
5) Be sociable
The BBQ is back in the garage, the stroll to school with the kids has turned into a run to the car with a brolly... It can be hard to fit in time to mix with friends, couple this with the good old British weather and it can be easier to say no altogether! But it has been proven that those who socialise are much less likely to suffer depression than those who routinely decline social events. 'Tis the season for festivities, you don't have to throw a huge party, but just inviting a friend around for a DVD, a trip to the cinema or even a chat on the phone can really help lift ones mood.
7) Medical help and advice
If you feel you might be depressed you should seek help no matter the time of year. Your GP is a good place to start, there are various medical and psychological treatments available for SAD and a medical professional can assess your situation personally. You are entitled to the help you need and should not be afraid to ask. SAD is a very real and treatable condition.