The clocks have gone back, the darkness comes in a lot quicker everyday. Overall, the weather is a lot more on the dam side of things. The evenings and morning are getting colder. Now tell me how could you but suffer from Seasonally Affected Disorder? Less light and more dark can often lead to a real case of the Winter Blues!
Its probably one of those things that you take for granted. But in general a lot of peoples moods dip during the winter time. I for one am a very firm believer that SAD is a big thing. Research into SAD really started back in the 1980’s.
SAD can cause sadness, trouble with straight thinking and in some cases general anxieties.
This year more than ever it may have a detrimental affect on the general population.
Fear not there are things that can be done to reverse the feelings and reduce the impact of SAD.
From changing up your diet, taking more exercise and using artificial light. Even just accepting that it exists and you may suffer from it can help.
Lets take them one by one.
To accept it would be a good first step. Rather than ignoring it as a possibility. Talk about it to your friends and family. Let those close to you know what’s going on. Being sociable can help too. Even with the restrictions of the current pandemic – join a WhatsApp Group, get involved with zoom calls or simply troll the pages of Social Media.
Changes to Diet
It may be only anecdotal but I remember watching a Jamie Oliver TV show and he spoke at length about the diet in the Mediterranean. He told us that the people lived a lot longer. They were happier and depression was not as big an issue as it was in Ireland or the UK.
Mediterranean Diet would include:
- Olive Oils
- Green Vegetables
- Red Wine
The red wine is a suggestion rather than spirits and beer – if alcohol needs to be taken. My father in law is a firm believer in a glass of red wine with the dinner / lunch / tea.
Fruits are a must but specifically the citrus fruits. The aroma of the citrus fruit alone can be attributed to a better mood. I always tended towards a citrus fragranced shower gel, body spray or deodorant. I love the “fresh” smell. So no surprise to me when I read about the benefits of the citrus smell. The scent is said to improve mood, make you happier and stimulated.
You can even incorporate citrus fruits into your cooking – maybe try baked salmon with lemon & rice for example.
Blueberries are a great superfood. They contain flavonoids with can increase blood flow to the brain, particularly to the part that controls emotion.
Tropical fruits such as Pineapple and mango are packed with Vitamin C that is believed to assist with the production of dopamine.
Thai Food is also recommended. Especially a dish where you could use some chillies. Chillies contain capsaicin. This can act like a very mild antidepressant. A friend of mine from Tunisia praises the humble chilli for its health benefits – from keeping him warn on the colder days to lowering his food cravings.
Eat more leafy greens – pact with nutrients such as iron, potassium, zinc. But also great vitamins like A, B6, B12 and C. You just can’t go wrong – especially as they are so readily available in Ireland.
Now for my favourite – well kinda
Dark Chocolate has always been tipped to have helped your brain to be happy. Although I would still be partial to a little chocolate – I tend more towards the Milk Chocolate. It still works for me.
As a rule of thumb – keep your food intake clean. Instead of letting the lower mood take control. Don’t reach for those processed foods. Stick to the healthy alternatives. Cut back on the carbs. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Exercise and planned movement
Exercise and working out gives you endorphins, and there make you happy!
Some of the key benefits of endorphins:
- Trigger Positive Feelings
- Reduce Stress
- Improve Sleep
- Reduce the perception of pain
- Lower Blood Pressure
All in all – it’s a very good thing!!!
I read an article recently that suggested adding a late workout, thus loading the body with endorphins when its dark.
They say that the root cause of SAD is the lack of light – why not get a Light Box. A light box is a gadget that will provide an artificial bright light source, close to natural daylight.
These can even be programmed to come on as you wake up. By mimicking the summer months when daylight appears earlier and brighter. This can boost the mood first thing in the morning.
Some theorists would also go so far to suggest that you brighten the house up. Brighter walls, floors, curtains and accessories. Mimic the sun, if you can.