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Winter can be a tricky time for those suffering from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, but there are steps you can take to help. It's quite a common health problem and it's important to appreciate that there are some fairly simple remedies that might help. Working through the low feeling and arriving at a more enjoyable place is definitely worth the journey. The first few months of the year offer the perfect time to contemplate new beginnings and a fresh approach to life
The winter break is traditionally a time for socialising, unless there is a pandemic, of course. Meeting with family and having a holiday from work (but not everybody, of course). But those who are lucky enough to have time off work can actually find that it's all a bit of a strain. Many people feel pretty lousy during the so called festive season. Christmas fayre is inevitably all around but it really is a good idea to moderate your intake of certain food and drink.
Losing the plot
Do you know how to help yourself to feel better?
Try feeding your body with a balanced diet coupled with exercise. For many people, this involves signing up to a gym and pounding the treadmill.
For January and February, at least, these temporarily-dedicated keep-fit enthusiasts will head straight to the gym in any spare time slot. Indoor exercise during a time of darkness is better than no exercise at all, but it doesnt help those suffering from the lack of natural light. This affects all of us to a greater or lesser degree, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very well named. You might not even know that you are experiencing SAD, merely accepting that your low mood and rather gloomy outlook is normal during winter.
Make yourself feel better - here's how to do it
Look at your diet and resolve to improve it. You don't necessarily need to eat less, just a better quality intake of nutrients.
Get outside during daylight as much as humanly possible. If you are working, just half an hour at lunchtime has a highly beneficial effect. Walk briskly to the park or the countryside and put away your digital devices to allow your eyes to feast on greenery. Being outdoors has been shown to improve both physical and mental health.
Scientists have found that walking in nature helps to promote better memory. It also lowers the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone marker. In addition, being outdoors in the countryside or at least near some trees, relieves mental fatigue and can give a psychological boost which manifests itself as a physical improvement in wellbeing. Green exercise, as it is known, is now prescribed alongside formal treatment for major depression and can often be used in place of chemical remedies for those suffering from milder problems. In fact, it is said that even 5 minutes exercising in the countryside boosts mental health.
Invest some time in the garden, there's always something that needs doing. Gardens are great places for those dealing with SAD. There are jobs to be done, despite the season. Spend an hour or so immersed in your plot and see how you feel the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. If you haven't got a garden of your own, offer to garden on someone else's plot.
Got some spare time? Helping other people makes you feel good.
Maybe you could do some shopping for a neighbour, invite them over for a cup of afternoon tea or offer to do some DIY for them. Donating money to worthy causes also makes you feel good. Many people say that you always get back more than you give away, in one form or another. Giving things away makes you rich.
Make some plans for the very near future.
Don't allow yourself to stagnate. Work out a schedule of achievable goals and stick to them. Even if it's simply cleaning the oven or clearing out a cupboard, it boosts the mind.
Here's some January garden tasks in which to immerse the soul:
- Prune apple and pear trees.
- Prune blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry bushes.
- Plant trees and shrubs bareroot plants are generally available until the main growing season commences.
- Feed the birds and remember to enjoy watching them visit the feast that you have provided.
- Scrub your patios and paths in order to remove potentially slippery patches. You could use a jet washer but beware of blasting out the mortar between the paving.
- Look at the winter structure of your garden. Does it fill you with joy? You might want to add some shapely evergreens and shrubs with vibrant winter stem colour. The shrubby Cornus (dogwood), rather than the flowering type, provides one of the best winter experiences. Prune back every March/April in order to achieve the best stem colour.