Many of us are thrown out of kilter for a day or two when the clocks fall back. However, for some of us the loss of daylight hours can throw us off balance for a substantial amount of time and this can have a powerful effect on our mood.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is now a recognised condition for which GPs can prescribe medication. Shorter daylight hours can lead to an increase in natural melatonin in our bodies which can make us more drowsy and sleepy during the day. With less sunny days we are also exposed to lower levels of serotonin which may make us more lethargic than usual and cause us to feel down more often.
Research in the US has shown that 1.4% of people who live year-round in Florida are affected by SAD compared to a much higher 9.9% in Alaska.
What Can We Do About It?
- Become aware of our energy and contentedness levels by tracking our sleep, moods, tiredness and libidos and comparing them to how they were earlier in the spring and summer
- Keep active and get outside as often as possible
- Eat healthily: comforting, warming soups and casseroles at the end of the day, consider investing in a slow cooker and do the preparation in the morning when you are feeling fresh
- Buy a daylight lamp or a daylight alarm clock: 30 minutes exposure in the morning is recommended to compensate for the lack of sunlight during the winter months
- Be kind to yourself: snuggle up under a blanket with a movie or boxset, enjoy a hearty roast dinner, or light the candles in the bathroom and have a bubble bath with a glass of your favourite tipple.
As much as we may want to escape to the sunshine to combat our SAD symptoms, it’s not possible for any of us at the moment so we need to make the best of what we have at home. Finding ways to embrace the winter and seeking contentment and moments of joy and fun whenever and however we can in our everyday lives should be our overall aim this winter lockdown.