Beating the Winter Blues
The days are getting shorter, the wind is whipping through our city and the temperature is dropping. Yes, winter is descending upon us. Short, cold, wet days can often affect how we feel and you may have noticed feeling a little down as the cold, wet season kicks in.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Many of us suffer from a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) where we find our mood drops as winter sets in. This is often referred to as the winter blues. For some people, it may only be mild, but for others it can be quite debilitating. The symptoms of SAD include depression, sadness, irritability, lack of energy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, feeling worthless, overeating and carbohydrate cravings. Sufferers experience these symptoms to varying degrees with some hardly noticing them while others find it impacting their whole lives. Symptoms recur annually and normally start and finish at the same time of the year. Light is thought to be a major factor and sufferers who are particularly sensitive to changes in daylight length, are most susceptible. The decrease in daylight disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm (our internal 24-hour body clock) and subsequently increases the secretion of melatonin. This chemical makes us sleepy and can also cause depression symptoms. So, what can you do if you are one of the 1 in 300 Australians who experience SAD each winter?
Get some Light
Expose yourself to as much natural light as possible – rug up and take a walk outside. Rearrange your desk and home areas where possible to take advantage of the natural light. Try and get as much exposure in the mornings as this helps reset your circadian rhythm clock.
Make sure you keep up your activity levels. Exercise induces the release of hormones in the brain that improve your mood – if you can exercise outdoors even better! It also helps manage depression and weight gain from over eating.
Get some social support
Spend time with your friends. Make sure you have strong social support around you. Increasing your support will assist in minimising any associated depression.
Eating regularly will also assist in resetting your circadian rhythm, help to manage overeating and reduce carbohydrate cravings.
Hearty White Bean and Lamb Soup
For a delicious and nutritious soup to warm your bones and help beat the winter blues, see our recipe for Hearty White Bean and Lamb Soup on our recipes page.