Chilly gray days, dark mornings and darker evenings in between mean winter is here. And with the coldest season come the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder (SAD),a form of depression characterised by low mood, fluctuations in appetite and heavy sleeping. It is thought to be common and it usually peaks in January & February every year. It can affect people of any age bracket which includes children since people’s immunity is low during this time of the year.
According to Sue Pavlovich of the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA),these 7 tips could help. “Everyone’s affected differently by SAD, so what works for one person won’t for another,” she says. “But there’s usually something that will help, so don’t give up if the first remedy you try doesn’t work. Just keep trying.”
Cold, cough, flu and throat infections are very common in this weather, and it gets even worse for asthmatic patients as they suffer from more severe bouts of breathlessness. There is no clinical diagnosis for the “winter blues”as it is characterized by feeling more down than usual, sad, or less energized. It is not a discrete medical condition, and apart from the weather it’s the people’s lifestyles also which make them fall ill.
Here are the 7 Ways To Beat the Blues :
Set Your Alarm Clock and Stick to a Sleep Routine – It is harder to get out of beds as one always love to sleep for long on dark chilly mornings. When you do wake up, your mood resembles the landscape you see — cold, dark, and nasty. So, establish a routine wake-up time and a soothing bedtime ritual — which means waking up at the same times on weekdays and weekends. Allow 3 or 4 weeks to get used to it, it’s important to get at least seven hours of sleep every night an make sure that your sleeping area is comfortable, slightly cool, and free of noisy distractions.
Exercise Daily – One of the simplest ways to beat the cold is by staying active. A brisk 15 minute walk in the middle of the day could be useful to increase crucial neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which help energise the brain and regulate circadian rhythms. Exercising early on in the day can be more beneficial as one can absorb natural daylight within two hours of waking up. It will also reduce the depressive mood.
Eat Healthy Foods – Balance your cravings for fast foods and the greasy, refined carbohydrates such as burgers and pizzas. Include complex carbohydrates in your diet such as broccoli, spinach, courgettes and lentils. Also include fruits and vegetables in your diet that are high in Vitamin D. Also consume fish, cod-liver, chicken and poultry to give you that necessary protein.
Light Therapy – Studies have shown that light therapy can give either partial or complete relief to 50- 80% of people who get winter blues. One of the ways to get light therapy at home in winter is to sit in front of a light box for 30 minutes to an hour each day. Light boxes which are enriched in light towards the blue end of the spectrum are most beneficial as it enables the people to get their day started early and avoid depressogenic oversleeping.
Develop or take up a new hobby – Develop new interests and keep your mind active as it seems to ward off symptoms of SAD. Pavlovich says “It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, or writing a blog. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to and concentrate on.”
Socialize with your friends and family – Socialising is good for one’s mental health and it helps keep winter blues at bay. Keep in touch with people you care about and go to social events, even for a little while as that will uplift your mood and your day.
Seek Professional Help – Don’t hesitate to see a healthcare professional if your symptoms are bad and you are unable to live a normal life. “Feeling blue for a period of time is not, per se, normal,”says Jacqueline Gollan, PhD, associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “When people feel blue, it’s a signal that something in their life needs attention.”So seek your general practitioner for medical help to make sure that winter blues aren’t more serious.