5 ways to beat the winter blues
(AFP) A lack of sunlight, feeling cold, tired and low are all associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which affects 3-5% of inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere from the autumn. Here are some tips and solutions that can help you avoid it:
It has been demonstrated in scientific studies: exercise helps to battle depression and its symptoms. It is also great for improving sleep, helping to regulate mood and boosting our immune system.
Three sessions per week of at least 30 minutes a day, outdoors to gain exposure to sunlight, will help to combat the winter blues. Walking, cycling and running are all recommended. There is also the option of winter sports such as skiing, ice skating and Nordic walking.
Some studies indicate that this non-invasive, non-toxic light can reduce SAD by over 50%. There is a huge choice of light therapy lamps on the market which provide an intensity that is similar to natural light.
Exposure for at least six weeks to this bright white light which contains neither UVA nor UVB gives good results and significantly improves mood.
St John's Wort flowers contain melatonin and serotonin, which play a role in regulating mood. This plant has traditionally been used to treat depression. Available in the form of teas, tinctures, oil, and capsules, it should be taken for a period of at least six weeks.
Soak up the sun in the morning
Exposure to daylight when we wake up activates the secretion of cortisol, a hormone which regulates our metabolism and helps with day-night synchronization. It is good to get into the habit of opening the curtains and windows to let a maximum amount of light into our homes from when we get up.
Pale-coloured walls and mirrors enhance this brightening effect. A dawn simulator which gradually emits soft light until wake-up time increases cortisol levels and results in a more natural and calm awakening.
Eat fruit, vegetables, fish and dark chocolate
With its high levels of omega 3 and vitamin D, fish (particularly oily fish and seafood) helps to combat SAD and plays a significant role in mood regulation. Walnuts, hazelnuts and dark chocolate boost magnesium levels, helping us to battle tiredness and stress.
Vitamins from fruit (citrus fruits rich in vitamin C) and green vegetables (particularly cabbage and spinach) will help you keep in good health and maintain your energy levels up throughout the winter.