This time of the year coming winter season brings shorter and rather cloudy, damp and rainy days. There's no wonder that sometimes we feel a bit moody, lacking energy and wishing to do nothing more than burrow deep down into our homes to seek warm comfort and cosiness. I certainly do. Naturally we feel more energised during the spring/summer season with our energy slowing down and tendency to hibernate during autumn/winter months. It does make sense doesn't it? At least in past it was more relevant to listen our physiological needs unlike today's modern world driving us constantly forward. Some people however, may be more sensitive than others and develop co-called 'seasonal affective disorder or SAD.'
NHS defines SAD as 'a type of depression which comes and goes in seasonal patterns.' That means SAD affects and manifests more during the winter months but can be present during summer in some individuals too. Symptoms of SAD vary as we are all different but most common are low mood, lack of energy, sluggishness, sleepiness and lethargy, irritability, difficulty to wake up and tendency to sleep for longer. More severe form may lead to loss of interests affecting daily activities and quality of life.
There are ways to cope if SAD may affect you:
1. Diet. Eat fruit and vegetable rich meals daily and follow rainbow colours to get enough essential micronutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In particular B vitamins rich foods such as oats, bananas, avocados, eggs, nuts and whole-grains are great to support nerves and liver function for optimal digestion. Fibre rich vegetables improve bowel motility and toxins elimination. Avoid processed foods, plain carbohydrates and refined sugars. Sweets don't enhance energy levels but cause weight gain and systemic inflammation further alleviating symptoms of SAD or other conditions.
2. Check vitamin D levels for potential deficiency. Vitamin D is an essential fat soluble vitamin responsible for optimal immune system function and mood levels. Vitamin D is being synthesised in skin through sunlight and during dark winter months this production naturally declines due to lack of sunshine.
3. Light therapy. There are various light therapy boxes or lamps which may help with SAD symptoms by increasing day light in your home or simulating dawn to help with getting up in the morning.
4. Social interactions. Surround yourself with loving friends and family, and engage with events to have a reason to look forward to.
5. Get plenty of fresh air and excercise. If you are not gym lover like me, take morning walks instead. Apparently 30 min of brisk walk qualifies for moderate intensity aerobic exercise. You should be walking at the pace to speed up your heart beat by 50-70%. Walk at least fife days a week.
6. Herbs to alleviate symptoms of SAD. Herbal approach depends on overall symptomatology but in general I use adaptogenic, nourishing and gently stimulating herbs. Supporting liver function is also essential and primary focus of the herbal treatment. My favourites would be vervain, dandelion root, lemon balm, oat straw, schizandra or siberian ginseng.
If none of the above doesn't seem to help get yourself a pet or offer your friend to look after their pet. Looking after pets give us a satisfying feeling of responsibility and being useful. Moreover, pets have an incredible way of expressing their love towards us and believe me, they always make you to feel happy!
Good luck to combat your winter months and feel free to contact your local holistic practitioner for further advice.
Love and hugs,