The shorter days and colder weather is kicking in and some of you might be starting to feel down, tired, craving carbs and just not yourself. The reduced light, warmth, and colour of winter can leave you feeling glum and if you feel the same this time each year you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is seasonal depression,it can affect us all in different ways. For some it may affect participation in everyday activities, health or relationships can be affected, for others it could be all of the above.It can leave you feeling hopeless and with a busy lifestyle many people are so focused on getting on with things they don’t seek proper treatment for their symptoms.

SAD can affect:

Mood
Appetite
Energy levels
Sleep

You may feel like a completely different person than usual, often feeling:

Stressed
Tense
Sad
Hopeless
Low
Lack of interest.

All of these symptoms can have an effect on your relationships, work, social life, school, and your sense of self-worth. Symptoms usually start showing in early Autumn, when the days draw in and the light is dimmer. Sad affects 1-2% of the population, no matter where you live, how dark and cold the winters are SAD is treatable. The more you understand the better you’ll be able to manage or prevent it.

Do you suffer from SAD?

Do you:

– feel like sleeping all the time
– have trouble getting a good night’s sleep
– feel tired all the time
– struggle to carry out everyday tasks.
– feel like you are gaining weight
– notice a change in appetite
– crave more sugary and starchy foods
– put yourself down
– feel guilty
– feel hopeless
– avoid spending time with people
– avoid activities you used to enjoy
– lost interest in physical contact and sex
– feel stressed
– feel irritable

The symptoms of SAD are similar to those of major depression, the severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person. To be clinically diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, you need to have experienced these cyclical symptoms for two or more consecutive years. If this is you, you need to seek help.

How to help:

It can be hard to motivate yourself with SAD but there are plenty of littles things you can do to help yourself feel better. Recovery will take time but each day you will start to feel a little better.

Exercise Regularly
Exercising outside, in the natural daylight where possible but any exercise will help to boost endorphins, serotonin and other feel good chemicals.It’s said that exercise can treat mild depression as well as an antidepressant. Exercising more will also help to improve your sleep and boost your self esteem. Aim for a minimum of 30 mins each day, walking, swimming, cycling, gyming etc

You are what you eat
Eating well balanced meals with fresh food will help keep energy levels up and help to minimise your mood swings. Sad will make you crave sugary foods and simple carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. Try to eat wholemeal options, oatmeal and bananas for a boost without such a sugar crash. Increasing the amount of Omega 3 Fats in your diet can help to boost your moods, these are found in oily fish, walnuts, soybeans and flaxseeds.

Get outside
Increase Vitamin D by getting outside during daylight hours, take short walks or have your lunch or coffee outside. Increasing the natural light in your home will also
help,so make sure you open blinds and curtains and sit near windows when possible.


Speak about how you are feeling

Staying in touch and socialising with friends and family is vital, this will stop you feeling isolated and help to boost your mood. It may feel more appealing staying in by yourself but even if you don’t feel like it getting out, interacting and talking will help.

Light Therapy

You can buy SAD lamps that mimic natural outdoor light to help replace the missing daylight in the winter.Daily exposure to this can help to suppress the brain’s secretion of melatonin to help you feel more awake and alert.

Light therapy has been shown to be effective but you will need advice from your doctor or mental health professional about the timing and length of exposure needed as this can vary according to your symptoms and circadian rhythm. You will need to keep up and continue the light therapy throughout the winter months for it to be effective and should be started before the onset of symptoms to help with prevention of SAD.

If you would like more information on how our retreat can help you kick start your healthy eating and exercise regime to avoid the winter blues please call 0129733193 or email info@questretreats.co.uk