We’ve embarked on what could be deemed a typically a tough phase to get through, both mentally and physically. You are not alone! I hope UK readers are managing the change of temperature and short days… This is part 1 of our Winter Solstice piece. In part 2 I will be talking about the impact of ‘high alert’ and also marking a celebratory date for your diary’s – the celebration of the Winter Solstice – there is light at the end of this gloomy tunnel.
In the UK, the sun’s rays wane quite dramatically in the winter months, due to the end of daylight saving time. This means that we have less exposure to our naturally occurring source of vitamin D. This can lead to disruption of the hypothalamus function in the brain. The hypothalamus dictates the success our physiological functions like sleep, thirst and hunger, mood and sex drive. Disruption of this function can lead irregular production of hormones which contribute to our happiness.
-Low levels of serotonin production makes us feel unhappy or low and can also affect our appetite and sleep.
-Our sleeping patterns (‘body clock’ or ‘circadian rhythm’) can be disrupted, making it difficult to carry out our daily routine, waking up or sleeping later or earlier than usual.
-Also, our bodies can over compensate and over-produce a hormone called melatonin which can make us feel very tired.
If this is ringing true, here are some helpful ways to help yourself out… courtesy of our amazing NHS
Things you can try yourself
There are a number of simple things you can try that may help improve your symptoms, including:
- try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial
- make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible
- sit near windows when you’re indoors
- take plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight – read more about exercise for depression
- eat a healthy, balanced diet
- if possible, avoid stressful situations and take steps to manage stress
It can also be helpful to talk to your family and friends about SAD, so they understand how your mood changes during the winter. This can help them to support you more effectively.
Anyway – I’ll be posting some exciting news tomorrow, so watch this space!