Seasonal Affective Disorder: 5 ways to boost your mood this winter
With the official start of winter around the corner, coupled with colder weather, shorter days and less sunlight, it’s not surprising that for many this time of year can affect our mood and sense of wellbeing.
According to the NHS Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. It is also known as “the winter blues" as symptoms are often more apparent during winter months.
Symptoms of SAD can include:
- Persistent feelings of a low mood -feeling miserable, anxious and irritable
- Sleep problems- sleeping for longer than normal and struggling to get up in the morning, sometimes needing a nap in the afternoon
- Lacking energy- feeling like everything is overwhelming and an effort
- Over-eating - craving carbohydrates can often lead to weight gain
Whilst the exact causes of SAD are unknown some scientists believe the following are key triggers for SAD:
-Disrupted internal clock (circadiun rhythm). A lack of exposure to sunlight can unsettle our biological clocks and may lead to feelings of depression.
-Drop in serotonin levels. Exposure to sunlight is believed to increase the release of serotonin, a brain chemical that is considered a natural mood stabiliser. In winter months when we get less exposure to the sun’s rays and serotonin levels decrease, it can trigger feelings of depression.
-Increase in melatonin. A hormone that responds to darkness causing us to feel sleepy, it’s no surprise that with shorter and darker winter days, melatonin production increases and causes feelings of lethargy.
In this article we explain 5 proven ways to boost your mood this winter.
1. Get outside
Put on a few extra layers and brave the crisp fresh air. Whilst it’s tempting to stay indoors where it’s warm and cozy, blowing away those cobwebs will leave you feeling invigorated and energised.
2. Brighten up your environment
Open blinds and curtains, even a window to let some fresh winter air in the house. Sit near windows or large doors that let the daylight flood in. If you have a garden cut back the overgrown trees to let the little sunlight there is flood in to your home.
3. Stimulate dawn
If you struggle to wake up in the morning and can’t shake off the drowsiness, especially if it’s still dark outside consider treating yourself to a dawn simulator clock like Lumie Bodyclock Rise 100. Studies have shown that these devices can act as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.
Studies have shown that walking fast for 35 minutes a day 5 times a week or 60 minutes a day 3 times a week has been shown to improve symptoms of mild and moderate depression. Check out Energy Coach Emily’s other exercise tips here.
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