With winter comes shorter days and longer nights and the real possibility that it will be dark when you go to work and dark when you leave work (making you feel like some kinda career vampire).
Let's face it, it's natural for us all to feel a bit blue when the nights draw in and the weather turns lousy, but for some people it can mean the start of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a real and in some cases, serious condition but for most of us if we get it at all, it is a simple and very slight chemical change in our brains due to reduction of sunlight which causes the part of the brain that is linked to energy levels to not work as it should. Luckily there are loads of things that can reverse this impact including socialising, exercising and eating good foods. Here's 5 of them!
1. Let there be light
Get as much natural light as possible during the day as sunlight helps produce seretonin and dopamine, the feel good chemicals. Ask for your desk to be positioned next to a window and take time to get outdoors during your lunch break, we try and do a lot of walking meetings here at Move. If your symptoms are severe you can also consider investing in a light box to help mimic the effects of sunlight (they are also good if we are having a particularly dark and dreary winter). You can find tips on picking a light box here.
2. Get moving
Exercise has been proven to help alleviate symptoms in all types of depression due to the neurotransmitters in the brain it stimulates and the endorphins that are released when we workout. So hit the gym, studio or better yet although it might be a bit chilly, try an outdoor exercise class - you'll soon warm up!
3. Eat right
The cold weather can lead all of us to crave carbs but food really can be one of the best medicines when it comes to beating the winter blues. Try and avoid simple carbohydrates such as white bread and cake as they can lead to a sugar high...followed by a crash which won't help if you're already feeling a bit low. Complex carbs such as sweet potatoes and porridge are much better options to give you all that carby comfort that you're craving.
4. Get positivite through...the negative?!
Confusing? A bit. When positive ions are released into the atmosphere it can have a negative effect on our moods (which is why the air conditioning machine can make you feel rubbish in the summer.) So that means negative ions are our friends. These can be found in the air during summer but can decrease in the winter, intensifying symptoms of SAD. Luckily you can buy an electrical ionizer machine which replicates the summer air and gives off negative ions.
5. Don't be a hermit
Although it can be tempting to go into hibernation mode during the winter, get out and about and make plans with friends. Researchers from University College Dublin carried out a study in which participants who had previously been treated for depression were given money to spend on social events. Dr Ann Sheridan who led the study found that "by the end of the study, all of the participants reported feeling better about themselves, having more confidence to socialise in their community, and experiencing fewer symptoms of depression"
The most important thing to remember if you feel like you are suffering from SAD symptoms is to take action. We don’t want to cause any panic when reading this. SAD is a real thing but there is a spectrum and most of us are barely affected - plus the best news is its easy to turn it around at this end. Visit your Doctor if you think you have more than just a case of the winter blues - after all life is too short to spend your time wishing away the days until Spring :)