Don’t be SAD this winter


By Mellisa Hutchins

Many business people believe that working all hours god sends is the key to success. Yes, you will need to be prepared to put in the extra hours. That goes without saying. However, make no mistake, those who are truly successful in business put nothing above their health. Looking after your health this winter is a must, especially if you want to secure those extra working hours.

Winter brings with it its own difficulties. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many people, but is often underestimated or ignored completely. So it is time to clue up on SAD and how to prevent it from affecting you this winter.

Obviously, there will always be people who are still dubious about SAD; about the plausibility of the condition; the severity of its symptoms, and whether or not it is justifiable as a form of depression. It is more common than you may think. The symptoms do not usually appear in people younger than twenty, and it is 4 times more common in women than in men. SAD tends to be more severe during the winter as the days become shorter. It is thought to be linked to the lack of sunlight, which stops the hypothalamus in the brain from functioning as it should. Symptoms may improve or even disappear during the spring and summer months, and may return each autumn and winter in a repetitive pattern.

business man drinkingSo how can you tell if you are suffering from SAD? You may experience a persistent low mood, irritability and a loss of interest in everyday activities. Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness could also feature as possible symptoms. Lethargy and feeling sleepy during the day; sleeping for longer than usual; craving carbohydrates and an increased weight gain are also very common. Should you experience any of these symptoms, of course, you should visit your GP. SAD is a form of depression and needs to be diagnosed appropriately by a medical professional.

Preventing or easing the effects of SAD couldn’t be easier. With minor changes to lifestyle, diet and a few new accessories around the house/office, you’ll be well on your way to having a very happy winter.

Yes, you have heard it before. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. Not only will exercise help alleviate many of the symptoms that comes with seasonal affective disorder, particularly weight gain and mood swings, but it will also make your body rest better for a more refreshing night’s sleep. Get moving and feel better.

Talking of a good night’s sleep, maintaining a regular sleep schedule would do all of us the world of good. Yes, I know exactly what you are thinking. What about the kids/pets/housework/business etc.? No I am not saying you should be in bed by 10:07 every night. Just say to yourself that you are not working past a certain hour because after that hour you are in ‘me time’. Go and have a bath, unwind, and go to bed feeling calm. It is no use going to bed while you are stressed about work as your body will not shut off, and you will wake feeling as bad as you did before you went to bed.

One of the best ways to combat SAD is through SAD Light Therapy. SAD lights give off light that mimics sunshine, which can aid the recovery of seasonal affective disorder. The light produced by these lamps is far more powerful than that of standard lightbulbs; the light is given off in different wavelengths to stimulate your body’s circadian rhythms and suppress its natural release of melatonin. Research shows that sitting in front of a SAD light for 30 minutes a day, preferably in the morning, can significantly improve your mood.

Dawn simulators can also aid those affective by SAD. Simply put, they are alarm clocks. Rather than waking you up with a harsh beeping or loud music, they mimic the rising of the sun by gradually increasing the intensity of the light to encourage waking up naturally. There are many models available on the market, but the best dawn simulators use full-spectrum light so that they resemble natural sunlight the closest.

Of course, rather than settling for mimicked sunlight, make sure you get some of the real thing! Even if you can’t manage to go outdoors, open the blinds and let the light flood in. Make a simple adjustment to your work area if you can; work in front of a window. A simple and cost-free solution. If that proves difficult, than some people have found that just by having a few extra lamps around the house can brighten their mood. No pun intended folks.

With shorter days and colder weather, winter will never be easy, especially for those of us who work from home. What with Christmas just around the corner, why not focus on making you the best and healthiest you possible.

Posted in: Recent Posts, Wellbeing

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