Winter Blues

As the nights draw in, it is time to take stock of your life and see if there is anything you could change or do better next year.

Winter used to be a time for reflection, thinking about the things you wanted to achieve and possibly coming up with a plan or an idea to start working towards in spring when your energy was higher. We have forgotten these natural ways of our ancestors and instead expect our bodies to simply cope with the 24 hour mentality we have created in this modern world.

Science has finally understood this and surveys have shown that most people can experience some alteration in mood or behaviour with the changing seasons. This idea is not new and was discussed as early as the fourth century BC.

Many people are aware that there is a now recognised medical condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD which can be diagnosed by your doctor. But, you don’t have to have this to recognise that you might feel a bit low during the winter months. Please note, there are a number of other illnesses which can resemble this such as an underactive thyroid.

Aerobic exercise has been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood control whether you are dealing with full blown SAD or feel mildly depressed. The most important factor is finding something you like such as brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing etc, and the most crucial thing is that you enjoy whatever you choose. If possible, find a friend to share this with and hopefully that will give you some support when you don’t feel like exercising.

A lot of people seem to want more carbohydrates in the winter and if you are such a person, it is worth allowing more carbohydrates in the winter, but within a calorie controlled diet so that you don’t end up putting on a lot of extra weight. It is also possible to eat less during the spring and summer which again is a natural way of eating for many people if they listened to their bodies.

Light boxes which have been used to treat people with SAD used to be prohibitively expensive and were quite large contraptions. Nowadays, you can pick up a light box for under £100 and they are often small enough to use first thing in the morning while you are having your breakfast or even when working at your computer or watching TV.

Vitamin D has also been shown to possibly have a beneficial effect on low mood during the winter, and it is perhaps a good time to take a supplement. There is evidence to suggest that more children are becoming deficient in this vitamin. Years ago, people were routinely given cod liver oil to prevent rickets, one of the effects of such a deficiency.

Vitamin D is commonly known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ and studies have shown that it can boost our immune system.

Definitely something to think about this winter.

Lara Stuart

Lara is an experienced complementary therapist. She obtained a BSc (Hons) in health sciences for complementary medicine and went on to train in reflexology, aromatherapy, reiki, homeopathy and Dr Bach flower remedies.

She is currently working on a Macmillan Unit providing complementary therapies for people who have cancer, and has a private practice in Lancaster. Lara can advise on health issues affecting the whole family.

If you would like to book a personal consultation please call Lara on 01524 824581

Any information given must not replace the advice from your doctor. If you are in any doubt about your symptoms, you must contact your GP.