Many of us feel low in the winter – the days are shorter; we tend not to go out and socialise as much and the world outside is cold and often gloomy.
For some of us, models included, these winter blues can end up being quite serious and we may ultimately be diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD is a form of depression that appears to follow a seasonal pattern and gets worse in the winter.
The causes are not fully understood but the reduced amount of light in the autumn and winter seems to play a part. Indeed, SAD is more common in those countries where it is dark at this time of year.
Symptoms can include:
*Feeling low, miserable or depressed
*Lack of energy
*Not wanting to be with others
*Overeating (not necessarily because you are hungry)
*Broken and poor sleep
*A desire to sleep at the wrong times
*General lack of enjoyment in life
Many of these symptoms are signs of all sorts of forms of depression.
Those with SAD tend to find, however, that they only occur during the colder months.
So, what should you do if you suspect you have SAD?
1. If your symptoms are serious, seek medical help. Your GP may decide to try you on an antidepressant medication or may suggest Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
2. Invest in a light box. Light therapy has been found to be effective with some of those with SAD.
3. Try to get out in the sunshine more. Walk, exercise or sit for a while in full sunlight soaking up the rays. Remember to take care out in the sunshine, however, when the weather warms up and the UV rays become stronger.
4. Make yourself stick to a daily routine that includes eating, working, exercising and going to bed at similar and sensible times.
5. Try to eat a balanced diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Try to ensure you have regular mealtimes. If you are not hungry, have a smaller portion, but still eat.
6. Be moderate with alcohol and drink lots of water throughout the day. Alcohol does often make you think you feel better in the short term, but you should not come to rely on it, and you may well end up feeling worse when you are not drinking.
7. Try to exercise every day. Exercise releases endorphins, which help trigger a feeling of positivity within the body. Furthermore, exercise has many other health benefits and should help your eating and sleeping patterns to regulate better.
8. Improve your sleep health. Make sure your bed and pillow are comfortable; don’t watch television or use any screen within the hour before going to bed; don’t drink caffeinated drinks in the hours before going to sleep and make sure the heating in the house is regulated.
9. Make yourself leave your home for a period of time every day. Have a walk in the fresh air, meet a friend, go to the cinema or the library. Even when we don’t always feel like it, going somewhere different and having a change of scene can make us feel better.
10. Try to see other people. Again, even when we don’t feel like it, chatting to other people can be so important. Tell your family and friends about your SAD so they understand what you are experiencing and can be supportive. Remember, you are not alone. Lots of people get the winter blues at this time of year.
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