Beating the winter blues...

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We know winter’s not far away when festive gift adverts dominate our TV screens, soap stars don their sequins, curtains get drawn earlier and heating is switched on.

Autumn days are often fresh and bright, but as the weather changes so can our mood. Why do dull days and dark nights make us feel down? Most scientists believe that the problem is related to the way the body responds to daylight, producing higher melatonin which causes lethargy and symptoms of depression.

There are lots of things you can try to beat the blues:

undefinedKeep active

Research has shown that a daily one hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues.

Get outside

Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.

Keep warm

If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help. Being cold makes you more depressed. It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half.Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food (you can get grants to warm your home.) Wear warm clothes and shoes, and aim to keep your home between 18C and 21C (or 64F and 70F degrees). 

See your friends and family

It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

See the light

Some people find light therapy effective for seasonal depression. One way to get light therapy at home in winter is to sit in front of a light box for up to two hours a day. Light
boxes give out very bright light at least 10 times stronger than ordinary home
and office lighting.

Take up a new hobby

Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, or writing a blog. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to and concentrate on.

Eat healthily

A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables

Leaving and returning home in the dark; this lack of daylight affects most of us, but if these changes are having a bigger impact on your mood maybe leading to symptoms of depression and sadness that can affect your day to day life you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your GP for medical help. Talking treatments such as those offered by Talk Liverpool may help you cope with symptoms. You can self refer by calling Talk Liverpool on 0151 228 2300 or go online at talkliverpool.nhs.uk

• SADA is a voluntary organisation that offers information and support to the public and health professionals: sada.org.uk

• Hints and tips courtesy of NHS Choices website: nhs.uk