The trees are losing their leaves, it’s getting darker earlier and there’s a chill in the air. This is a sure-fire sign that winter is on its way. And for 2 million Brits, it signals the start of the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The condition is thought to be related to the amount of natural light available in the winter months. Scientists believe that daylight triggers a reaction in our bodies each morning that stops us from producing melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel drowsy so we can sleep. In the winter months the lack of daylight can mean some peoples’ bodies don’t stop producing melatonin – leaving them feeling exhausted.
Exposure to sunlight also boosts levels of serotonin, the chemical which makes us feel happy. During the winter months the body produces less serotonin, which can also lead to depression.
If the change in seasons has left you feeling down in the dumps, our top winter health tips could help you start to feel brighter.
Get some fresh air every day
Doctors believe that we need to be exposed to around 2,500 lux (the measurement of light intensity) each morning for at least half an hour for our natural body clocks to work correctly. The average light in a well-lit kitchen or office is only 500 lux. A clear winter morning, however, has an intensity of 4,000 lux. So, make sure you get some fresh air every day.
Book a holiday abroad
People with severe symptoms of SAD sometimes emigrate to warmer climes for the winter. But not many of us have the luxury to do that, so booking a winter holiday in the sun can help. If you’re not a fan of beach holidays, a skiing holiday is a good alternative, as there’s often a lot of sunshine at altitude and you’ll be spending a lot of time in the outdoors in natural light.
Consider installing a special light box on your desk at work
Light therapy, using special high intensity ‘light boxes’, is one of the main forms of treatment for SAD sufferers. To get the benefits, sufferers have to sit in front of a light box, which contains a light five to 20 times more intense than a well-lit office, for a certain amount of time each day. Unfortunately, these boxes can be large and unwieldy, but smaller light boxes have now been developed which can be installed on top of computers for people to use for an hour or two each day at work.
Do some Pilates!
Research has shown that exercise can relieve mild depression and the effects of the winter blues. Just half an hour of exercise three times a week should do the trick. Although it’s not known why, exercise produces a feel-good hormone that can relieve mild depression.
Pilates is a great all-round workout for the body and mind. Its low impact and requires total concentration, so it’s the perfect way to take your mind off your winter blues. But don’t take my word for it – come and see for yourself.
Call the studio on 0 794 782 2911 / 0208 579 7879 to book a class today.