Now that winter is here you may find that you feel lethargic, have a low change in mood with your enthusiasm waning, you could be dealing with the depressive illness, SAD.
Affecting over 20 per cent of the UK, seasonal affective disorder is caused by a lack of sunlight as the shorter days strike during autumn and winter. Symptoms vary from the more commonly known ‘winter blues’ to more severe, debilitating states of depression.
Why does it happen?
The NHS suggest that this lack of light during the darker months disrupts the production of happy hormone serotonin, as well as melatonin, which controls your sleep cycles. Additionally less sunlight also means less vitamin D which has been linked to affecting brain as well as bone health.
The weather and sunlight are unchangeable factors yet there are still numerous ways that can help you beat the dip. Here are some ways to boost your well-being:
Lace up and get outside
Unsurprisingly here at The Running Bug we believe going for a run cures almost all of life's woes. But it isn’t as straightforward as simply running away SAD. Keeping moving will certainly help to alleviate some of the effects of the disorder, as exercise endorphins will boost your mood and make you to feel more up-beat even on dark days. But exposure to sunlight plays a vital role in managing mood and promoting a positive mindset.
‘Our bodies’ natural responses to light can affect our appetite, energy levels, and mood,' explains Dr Sally Norton of Vavista Life. 'So boosting how much light you are exposing yourself to could help to improve your SAD symptoms.’
Change your routine
Soak up the daylight where you can. If you usually spend your lunchtime indoors, make the most of the brighter parts of the day. Opt for a lunch run instead, or walk to work instead of taking public transport.
Added daylight benefits
Another bonus of exposing your body to the light of day is a trim waistline. ‘Exposure to even 20 minutes of natural sunlight, particularly in the morning, has been shown to help keep the weight off,’ adds Dr Norton.
So boost that mood and come away benefiting your body in more ways than you might think.
Keep moving with friends
If your pals are waiting to meet you in the cold, you're a lot less likely to cancel. Even if you can't make it out in day light, the company will break up your day mentally as well as getting those endorphins pumping.
One of the most beneficial treatments for SAD is a light box. They help up to 85 per cent of people dealing with seasonal affective disorder as they mimic the effects of daylight. In winter light boxes are generally used daily for around 30 – 60 minutes. Lumie have a great range, check out lumie.com
A healthy, balanced diet will keep you topped up on the correct vitamins and minerals ready to face the winter head on. Additionally, it also pays to up your Vitamin D intake. From October to March the UK sunlight doesn't contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.
The NHS suggest including a small number of foods into your diet such as oily fish like salmon and herrings, together with red meat and eggs.
Talk to your doctor
Don't be afraid to ask for medical advice. There isn't an instant way to combat SAD, but your GP may be able to prescribe supplements or refer you to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.