SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER: HOW TO NOT BE “SAD” THIS CHRISTMAS!
For many of us, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! It is the season of joy and goodwill. We break up from work, get to spend time with our loved ones, indulge in festive food & drink; and we give & receive heart-felt gifts. For some however it can all just get a little too much… long dark nights, isolation, time indoors, lower activity levels, and we say that this might contribute to why….
Have you heard the term Seasonal Affective Disorder before?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, as it is often referred to, is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern. Some people call it ‘winter depression’ because the symptoms are more severe during the winter, and tend to improve through spring and summer.
Symptoms of SAD can include:
- low energy
- social withdrawal
- depressed mood
- irritability or anxiety
- poor concentration
- loss or increase of appetite
- changes in sleep
- loss of interest in activities and hobbies
According to Mind.org:
“Lots of people have heard of SAD and depression in general, but this doesn’t mean that they understand what it’s like or how you’re affected. It doesn’t mean you ‘just feel a bit sad’, and there are many factors that can cause depression – for some people it develops without there being a specific reason. It can be frustrating and upsetting if people don’t understand this, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF VITAMIN D
Research suggests that a lack of Vitamin D can contribute to seasonal affective disorder. It is thought that a lack of sunlight stops the hypothalamus in the brain working properly, which in turn may affect the following hormones:
- MELOTONIN – the hormone that makes you feel sleepy (SAD sufferers produce more melatonin).
- SEROTONIN – the hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep (a lack of sunlight may lead to lower levels).
- BODY’S INTERNAL CLOCK – sunlight is an important factor in controlling when you wake up (our circadian rhythm), lower light levels may disrupt your body clock. (Read more below about your circadian rhythm)
As we are spending much more time in our homes, a daily dose of Vitamin D has never been more important to help us to stay well & boost our immunity. If you need to take a supplement, do! For more guidance on levels take a look at our Nutritional Therapist ‘s top tips below:
BEATING THE BLUES
Mental and emotional health doesn’t take time off at Christmas, and with all the added stress and demands which come with the Christmas period, it’s even more important for you to take care of your wellbeing. From feeling overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted and isolated, Christmas can be a very testing time for our mental and emotional health. Therefore, it is an extremely important time to make sure we are looking after ourselves and those around us.
HERE ARE OUR 10 TOP TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOUR WELLBEING THIS CHRISTMAS:
- Be realistic about what you can achieve.
- Don’t overspend
- Plan in advance; create to-do lists. Don’t leave everything to the last minute.
- Take time out to relax and do something for yourself (why not try a self-massage – see our tutorial below)
- Don’t drink to excess. Alcohol is a depressant. Consuming too much can leave you with a low mood & dehydrated.
- Ensure to get enough sleep. Being out of routine can mess with anyone’s sleeping pattern.
- Eat a balanced diet – we like to over indulge during the Christmas period but try to include fresh seasonal produce.
- Do some exercise. It is good for the mind, soul and body and helps us ‘feel good.’
- Check up on family & friends. As we’ve mentioned, Christmas can be a lonely period for some people.
- Give to others – by doing something nice for someone this Christmas, it will have a positive effect on your mood.
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock, running in the background to carry out essential functions and processes. One of the most important and well-known circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle.
Your body’s internal clock or sleep-wake cycle responds to changes between light and dark to regulate your sleep, mood, and appetite. The longer nights and shorter days of winter can disrupt your internal clock—leaving you feeling groggy, disoriented, and sleepy at inconvenient times.
CLICK HERE to read more.
MAKING YOU TIME
Some of you will know Leigh. She is one of Tonic’s Practitioners and a highly qualified Massage Therapist. Watch the tutorial below for her advice on delivering effective self-massages. These are simple, easy to follow and offer immediate and lasting benefits. Please let us know how you get on too! We always love hearing your feedback.
Wishing you all have a calm, peaceful and stress-free Christmas.