In the UK, we have just moved our clocks back and we are once again on Greenwich Mean Time. It means, of course, darker mornings, the evenings drawing in, the cold months of the year are here in some parts and on the way in others. For some people, it also heralds the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
SAD is more than just feeling a little gloomy when the days are short. It is actually a recognised depressive illness. If you feel you have the symptoms of depression, which have started since the clocks went back then I would urge you to get in touch with your health professional and get some help. In the meantime, if you think it is merely low mood you are suffering, I might be able to provide some help for you with this blog post.
Yesterday I ventured into a local health food shop. I don’t do this very often because invariably I walk out with lots of stuff. It was no different yesterday and I came out with some Light Tahini Paste (my home made hummus is going to taste AWESOME), two boxes of herbal tea (Echinacea and Cranberry and Apple and Cinnamon), two bottles of Bach Rescue Remedy Night (I need something to help me sleep through) and a copy of the Health Food Chain’s Magazine. In that, I noted an article about how to “Stay Summer Happy”. Before I tell you about it, I want you to know that this is NOT going to be a cure for SAD if that is what you have. But if you are feeling glum, lethargic and a little blue, then these tips might just help you.
The basic gist of the article is that although everyone feels better in the summer than they do in the autumn and winter, everyone’s mood takes a bit of a dip at this time of year. It is fine for that to happen. In fact, it is natural to happen. If you think about it, a tree losing its leaves is a change, and that happens naturally at this time of year. However, instead of resigning ourselves to feeling morose from October to March, it is important to inject some joy into the darker months of the year. We need to make a conscious decision to get into the swing of the new season. The article quotes Psychologist Ingrid Collins, who says;
“Autumn is a time to review and reflect: to build on the work you have done so far this year, now that you’re recharged after a summer break; and to plan for the coming year”
Now, that struck a chord with me. This is what I am doing with planning the garden and with Operation Chrysalis as well. The article goes on to give 5 tips to embrace year round well being.
The first is exercise outdoors. Luckily, I have a dog who needs walks, and a big garden to attend to (with lots of work to do in it into the bargain), so that isn’t so hard for me. Even if you just take a quick promenade round the block, getting out of the centrally heated house will help you feel invigorated. Exposure to sunlight, even through cloud, is better than being stuck in an artificially lighted environment. 30 minutes per day is ideal, but start small and build it up if you can.
Taking a vitamin D supplement might also help matters. The body requires sunshine to make vitamin D, and if the weather is awful, then taking a supplement might help you improve your mood.
Another mood lightener is staying social. Plan getting together with friends and family (if you get on with them), hunt out a book club, join a crafting circle, go for coffee with a good friend. In some ways it is easier to be social in these months than it is to be social at any other time of the year. Holidays are great, but they can totally mess with the schedule! Don’t forget exercise classes. You will have a social experiences, and will feel better from the endorphins into the bargain.
If you are suffering from SAD, you might need to use a Light Box. It mimics sunlight and has been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms in 85% of sufferers. You need one of 5000 lux (which is a unit of illuminance apparently) and ideally, it needs to be used for an hour a day.
Their final tip was to set goals. You can use getting to the goal as a kind of marker for getting through the season and if gives you a focus for the period of the year as well. My goals are to be nifty and thrifty for Christmas this year, and of course, Operation Chrysalis as well.
I hope these help you… but please, please remember… if your mood is lower than “just a bit glum”, please go and seek help from your preferred medical professional.