Beating the Winter Blues
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is estimated to affect 7% of the UK's population severely, and a further 17% having a milder form of the condition every winter. And this year, the poor summer means that up to 10 million people will experience 'winter blues' and are likely to be feeling gloomy and down during the winter months.
So how can you help yourself feel better and beat the winter blues? Alexandra Bacon, Emotional Health specialist has years of experience with treating clients with SAD, gives her top tips for managing the condition.
1. Try some light therapy
This is the recommended treatment option suggested by experts. They believe that SAD is caused by a lack of light that cuts serotonin in the brain - the chemical in the body that makes you feel happy.
You can buy a small lightbox and spend 30 minutes a day in front of it if you suffer regularly.
Alternatively, make sure you get outside more often so you get a daily dose of sunlight. Avoid staying cooped up in dark, poorly ventilated houses or offices. Even getting out in cloudy weather for a few minutes a day can give you a much needed boost of sunlight.
1. Try Bach Flower therapy
Bach Flower Remedies work naturally to help resolve emotional factors like depression and anxiety that can block physical healing and change how we feel. Harnessing the power of nature to boost your mood and energy levels, increasing wellbeing without the side effects of prescribed drugs, the remedies can also be used safely in conjunction with medication.
Alexandra Bacon commented "more recently there has been a reawakening of the knowledge that natural plant based remedies can help calm the nerves and heal the body. This has been typified in the Channel 4 television programme, ‘The Kitchen Pharmacy’ and BBC 2’s ‘Grow your own Drugs. We are natural beings by nature and so it seems perfectly right to use what mother-nature provides to balance the conditions that modern life upsets so readily."
It is important to consult a Practitioner if you find your symptoms are severe or ongoing as they can make an assessment of your individual needs and prescribe the right mixture of remedies for you. For short term relief however, Alexandra recommends using remedies such as Gorse and Mustard to counteract the associated symptoms of depression; and to boost energy levels, trying a remedy like Olive.
2. Eat a healthy diet
During the Winter months, your diet often suffers because your craves sugary comfort foods.
Experts suggest ditching the sugary snacks because they make your blood sugar levels go up and down which seems to have an effect on SAD. Instead, opt for low GI (glycaemic Index) options such as fruit and nuts which stabilse your blood sugar and keep you fuller for longer.
Increasing the amounts of oily fish, you eat can also help as they are high in omega 3 oils and studies have shown that it can help improve symptoms of SAD.
5. Increase your Exercise
Exercise has been shown to help depression and SAD; it improves circulation and releases feelgood endorphins. Aim to do something at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes.
Too cold to go out for a walk or run? Try doing exercise indoors such as using a rebounder, doing some yoga or just dancing round the house to your favourite music! Short, regular bursts of exercise have been proven to be more beneficial to our health than long periods.
4. Talk to a Counsellor or Psychotherapist
Sharing how you feel with a professional counsellor or therapist can often help you to cope better with the symptoms of SAD. They can also help you to find new ways of dealing with how you feel- talk therapy has been proven to help sufferers of SAD.
Alternatively, reach out to a friend or family member and talk to them about your feelings and symptoms. A word of support or advice from a friend or loved one can help to lighten your symptoms and improve your mood.
5. Try some Tapping Therapy
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a gentle tapping therapy based on acupuncture that can also help overcome some of the associated low feelings you get when you suffer from SAD. It is something you can use yourself on a daily basis to boost both your mood and energy levels quickly and effectively.
Alexandra comments: “I have used EFT for years both to help myself and my clients overcome a range of issues including chronic fatigue and depression. It works within minutes and is safe and non invasive. Clients have described it as the ‘tapping cure’ it is so effective and works when nothing else does.”
To summarise, although it is essential to treat the physical causes of SAD with diet and exercise, and increasing exposure to sunlight, it is also important to address the emotional aspects of the illness too. Seeking professional help can often enable us to gain a different perspective on ways of coping with SAD long term and help improve your quality of life all year round.