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Monday, 11 December 2017

How to cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Winter is "the most wonderful time of the year" for some people - holidays, winter wonderland, cozy nights in etc. However, for others the shortened days and darker nights brings out SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?-  In case you haven't heard of this term before, this is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Can also be known as Winter depression because the symptoms are more apparent during the winter and autumn season and often disappears during spring and summer. Symptoms of SAD can include; irritability, loss of interest in normal daily activities, persistent low mood, sleepy/ lack of energy during the day, food cravings (carbs especially) and weight gain etc. 
(source: NHS uk ) 

Although seeking professional/medical help is certainly the route to managing any form of depression, what can you do for yourself to cope? 

1. Light - Take advantage of the sunny days, spending time outside can boost serotonin levels - this is the chemical in that is responsible for maintaining mood balances in our body. Lack of serotonin leads to depression. Alternatively, make sure you are exposed to natural light when you are indoors, open the blinds and curtains. Light in general lifts up your mood as compared to being in the dark - I work in a dementia care setting and it is a fact that poor lighting can increase anxiety in patients and can affect their mood. 

2. Diet and exercise - It's no secret that exercise can relief stress and boost your overall mood. People who exercise on a regular tends to feel more positive about themselves this is because when you exercise you'll naturally release endorphins. For someone who has SAD or who doesn't exercise on a regular it doesn't have to be anything extremely exhausting - even a little walk can make a difference. Also maintain a healthy diet, avoid foods high in simple carbohydrates (fight those cravings!). Grains, vegetables, fish, poultry and meat are some of the foods containing serotonin. 

3. Good Sleep - When you are depressed you tend to sleep a lot anyway, however avoid napping during the day by staying active and make sure you get enough sleep during the night. Sleeping is just as important as eating and drinking, it helps you keep on track and your mood balanced. 

4. Talk to people and Maintain your routine - Do not isolate yourself from friends and family,  sharing your problems with your loved ones is very important as they will help you get the help you deserve. Do not suffer in silence it will only make the situation worse. Lastly, do not neglect your everyday activities/ hobbies, make an effort to stay active. Life is too short to put on pause. 

If all fails book a winter sun holiday! (but seek help first) 
                                                                        -Rue xx 


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