Even the thought of winter can send those with seasonal affective disorder into a spiralling state of inner turmoil. At a time when many are eagerly anticipating cosy winter festivities, those suffering from SAD are dreading the onset of lethargy, anxiety, irritability and food cravings. Reinvention Hypnotherapist, Malminder Gill gives her top tips on how to combat these symptoms…
Be nutrition savvy and up your B12 and Vitamin D which are known to help ease symptoms of SAD
Eat Omega 3 – flaxseed and hemp which are proven to help to boost serotonin levels. Research has found that SAD may be less common in those who consume more omega-3s.
Vitamin D Supplement – Nutrients showed participants who took vitamin D supplements experienced significant improvement in their depression
Eat foods with tryptophan – produce serotonin, but it works with two other hormones, noradrenalin, and dopamine, to help lift one’s mood, promote a more relaxed state of mind, and make it easier to deal with stress. Foods that contain high levels of tryptophan include turkey, chicken, turkey, nuts, bananas, peas, pumpkin, and spinach.
Get enough daylight – at least 60 minutes is the recommended daily amount
Get outside for your breaks at work, walk or cycle to and from work.
Studies show that an hour of exercise outdoors (even if it isn’t sunny) can have the same affect as 2.5 hours of light treatment indoors and can help to rid the feelings of depression.
Invest in a sun lamp, artificial light therapy is proven to help
Sun light is known to regulate melatonin, the hormone that control sleep cycles and serotonin which helps in regulating mood (low serotonin is linked to depression)
A recent Russian study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, found that these simulators were just as effective as a light therapy box for people suffering from mild SAD. Researchers have also found that dawn simulators seem to increase athletic performance and enhance cognitive performance, as well as lifting one’s mood.
Manage your motivation to do something about your symptoms, I believe this is the most important step. Many sufferers give up and succumb to their symptoms, left feeling hopeless, helpless and thus spiralling.
Try to limit sleep to 8-hour period on a regular schedule to keep energy levels up. Oversleeping can increase melatonin levels which can increase depression.
Morning and before bed meditations can alleviate anxiety such as Super brain yoga. This focuses on concentrated pressure points in the body, stimulating these points can restore energy and this can help you feel awake and alert, rather than lethargic which is common for SAD sufferers. While exercise can increase endorphins, Super brain yoga can connect your mind and body. This means you can learn to witness feeling of sadness and depression without getting wrapped up in negativity. Yoga can change the architecture of the brain, strengthening new neural pathways by practicing every day. Even ten minutes a day can be restorative for depression symptoms.
Always seek medical advice and visit your GP if you suspect you might have SAD.
Hettie is the editor and co-founder of DOSE. A keen runner, she’s also partial to a blast of high-intensity and hot yoga. A country girl at heart, she divides her time between London and the lush rolling hills of North Devon. When she’s not jetting off on her next adventure, Hettie can be found in a candle-lit alcove with a laptop, a spaniel and a full bodied Malbec.