Christmas is very nearly upon us and we can look forward to time spent with our family, and appreciate all the good things in our life. However, even though it’s a period where we should feel happy, the sudden change of weather can cause a serious mood change in some people – otherwise known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It’s something that affects around 2 million of us in the UK and 12 million across Europe – and it can strike at any age. Signs and symptoms include depression, sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, irritability; and feeling down and unsociable. But what can we do to try and ease these symptoms?
Get yourself outside
Try and seek as much natural daylight as possible – whether that’s through a morning walk or a lunchtime stroll – as it fresh air will help lift your spirits. It’s a good idea to bring more light into your home by trimming hedges that may be blocking your windows. Also, try to designating at least one bright room that you can relax in if you’re feeling a bit down.
Enter the light
It’s possible to receive light therapy which will help with SAD. Simply sitting in front of a light box for up to two hours a day will have beneficial effects. These light boxes don’t come cheap though – around £100 – but they are 10 times stronger that ordinary home and office lights. The best ones have fluorescent bulbs behind a screen that filters out UV light, and an illuminated area of one square foot. Morning treatment is usually better but be careful of side effects that can include headaches and eye strain in some people.
As we have discussed in previous blogs, eating healthily can have huge powerful effects on our mood, and it will also give you more energy and prevent weight gain. Make sure you balance your cravings for carbohydrates and keep them healthy. A diet full of high-impact carbs may provide a temporary boost, but they will also release insulin which results lower blood sugar, and therefore more cravings. Also try introducing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet.
Again, keeping fit is something we have discussed before and research has shown that a one hour walk in the middle of the day can help with SAD. This is a great idea for people who cannot regularly make the gym and even just walking the dog round the block can have beneficial effects.
Seek professional help
Sometimes, the effects of SAD may not go away even with these great tips. If this is the case then don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek help from your GP, especially if the disorder is affecting your personal or work life. You may receive medication if your symptoms are serious enough.
Have you been affected by SAD and wish to share your story? Or maybe you’ve read our blog and been inspired to fight this common disorder? Feel free to comment below and engage with other Butterfly Direct members.