Beating the winter blues this Christmas

THE WINTER IS the season that gets darker, colder and for some gets depressing. For some the thought of cuddling up on the couch listening to the rainfall becomes a dampening habit rather than a cosy night in. People who can notice an emotional difference due to the changes of season may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) also known as ‘winter depression’. SAD is a classified type of depression that occurs during certain types of the year affecting millions of people in the UK.

There are a number of symptoms which when combined, can be helpful in diagnosing the disorder. They include; feeling lethargic and unproductive, feeling pains in your joints, feeling depressed or irritable and finding it difficult to concentrate. If you are someone that is struggling with these symptoms, there are a variety of ways to over come the winter blues and enjoy the festive season.

Firstly, eating the right types of food can have an amazing effect on your body and mind as getting the correct vitamins and proteins can do the world of good. One main vitamin we need is the ‘sunshine vitamin’, better known as vitamin D which is naturally produced when the sunlight hits the skin. But in the winter months, where there is little natural sunlight, you are more likely to run a deficit.

Vitamin D is important for maintaining a healthy immune system, cell growth, and bone remodelling so getting the right amount each day will help ensure that you feel as your best and decrease the severity of SAD. As vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium eating beef, cheese and eggs are a brilliant way to help you from the inside out.

Once you have got eating healthy, another great way of overcoming the winter sadness is by finding workouts that you enjoy. When you feel low, you may want to curl up in a ball in your bed watching episodes of Friends but exercising can be one of the best ways to combat depression.

Having a regular exercise program, no matter how ambitious or small can boost your well being by causing a flood of feel-good endorphins rush around your body. For SAD sufferers, doing enjoyable workouts such as dancing, yoga or swimming are great and leave you feeling sustained and less anxious.

Maintaining a good sleeping pattern is important to do over the winter months. As the winter days are short it is best to wake up as early as possible to enjoy the best of the sunlight hours and get outside as much as you can. To get the best out of your sleeping hours, try going to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. This will help you feel energised and refreshed, ready for the day.

Another way of feeling brighter this winter is by trying light therapy. Light therapy is useful for people who lack vitamin D and works by purchasing a ‘light box’. A ‘light box’ is a very bright lamp (3,000-10,000 lux) that helps your body create natural vitamin D. They may not work for everyone and can cause headaches so it is best to consult a specialist on how they work.

Mind-set is a powerful thing so try and teach yourself to enjoy the winter perks! Take advantage of the nights in to relax and enjoy watching films. Learn a winter hobby, like skiing or do an indoor sport such as badminton or squash. Don’t put your life on pause over the months that can be just as enjoyable as the spring and summer, just understand the reasons why before things can change.

Learn to overcome SAD and enjoy the winter again. Image by Rebecca Jones

Learn to overcome SAD and enjoy the winter again. Image by Rebecca Jones

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