This time of year is just awful. It gets bright late, it gets dark early. It’s cold and miserable and really I feel like I am in London 1888 with all the pollution in the air. People often get a bit blue at this time of year (and yes, blue from the cold too!) and it is usually put down to boredom. No endless sun to spend the whole time out of doors, therefore not exercising as much, constantly in of doors. There is actually an official name for this, the acronym also being a play on words: S.A.D. - Seasonal Affective Disorder.
What is S.A.D.?
So this is a slight form of depression that occurs during the winter, or darkening, months. There are reports of people suffering from this during the spring and summer too, but that is an entirely different ball game… I guess some people are just happier in the darkness! The effects are generally a loss of enthusiasm, sadness, anxiety, mood changes, basically everything negative about our emotions and personal beings.
I Live In California. Can I Get S.A.D.?
It is all down to personal character, but the rule of thumb goes - the further you are from the equator, the more likely you are to be affected. But sure, if you are a Californian completely in love with the sun, then the winter may indeed make you sad. Maybe that’s why Californians are so laid back and happy-go-lucky, their higher than average sun exposure must play a huge role!
Is It Possible To Overcome S.A.D.?
The best cure for Seasonal Affected Disease is, of course, the sunshine. But if that is a long time coming, and you wish to unstick yourself from the rut, try some of these:
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is the significant vitamin that we receive from the sun, and in winter months we lack it immensely which causes lethargy and moodiness. Try taking a supplement or eating rich in Vitamin D foods like tuna, beef liver, or orange juice (to include a few).
- LightBox: So this is a treatment where you have a box that lights up and you place it next to you for an hour or so every day. The light emanated from this box is supposed to be sufficient to make up for the lost winter light. Some people also go on sunbeds, keep the summer tan, clear up some skin issues, but also expose to dangerous skin diseases. Let’s stick to the box recommended by doctors!!
- Essential Oils: Adding some lavender to your collar or pillow has been known to help with sleep, which allows us to wake up more energized and enthusiastic for the coming day. Citrus has also been said to be helpful against depression. It would be perfect to have a diffuser in your home, and then you could find other oils to help you prevent allergies, or balance your moods, or heighten certain moods 😉😍
- Write It Out: Writing is very therapeutic, and if you keep a private journal you may even end up writing about feelings you didn’t realize you harbored! If you are afraid that someone would read them then just burn the pages after, or if you are digitally recording your thoughts put them in a secret file with a password (but sit correctly if you are doing this! Did you read our Ergonomics article?)
- Take A Vacation: Well, who wouldn’t like to take a vacation in winter to a sunnier destination? School term can hinder this one, but if you do not have children in school, and are prone to S.A.D. (or just wish to go on holidays) then try to arrange to have your vacation in winter! As it is not peak time flights to the destination and accommodation may be cheaper.
If I You Know Someone With S.A.D.:
I know that I am taking it lightly in this article but Seasonal Affected Disorder is serious and could have long-term adverse effects on some people. Try to encourage people to seek help if they need it, and never take for granted someone’s situation - it might not mean a lot to you, but to them perhaps.