As the days get shorter and the sunlight more scarce, many people experience winter time blues or, in scientiﬁc terms: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Fatigue, oversleeping, cravings for carbs, lack of motivation – we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. Aside from moving to Spain or Hawaii, what can we do to feel better?
Light, food, exercise, repeat.
This answer is common sense (which doesn’t necessarily make it all that much easier…) First, get more light! As the natural variety can be in short supply, you’ll have to get the kind in a box. A light box can work wonders. There are many models on the market, but make sure you get a good strong white light of 10,000 lux or more and that it’s speciﬁcally made to treat SAD. Try to sit in front of it from 20 to 90 minutes each day, preferably in the morning.
Secondly, it’s especially important to eat well, both for psychological and physical reasons. Fruits, vegetables, eggs and fatty ﬁsh are especially important to provide those essential vitamins, especially vitamin D, that will improve your mood and keep carb and sugar cravings to a minimum. A recent study has shown that eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness even more quickly than it improves our physical health.
And lastly, because SAD causes fatigue and lethargy, specialists advise making an extra effort to stay physically active. Low mood is caused by disruptions to the body’s circadian rhythm, which regulates our sleep, eating, and activity patterns according to day-night cycles. Regular physical exercise during the autumn and winter months can help to maintain an appropriate circadian rhythm. And it doesn’t take much:
even low-intensity exercise done for as little as one hour per week can have noticeable effects.
And, of course there’s always Spain and Hawaii…