If nothing else, Edinburgh is known for it’s warm, sunny winters. Well, we can dream, can’t we! And dreaming about warm weather and sunshine is often what we have to resort to at this time of year. By mid-February, we’ve had about enough of the dreary days that our climate treats us with. For many people, it’s not simply an impatience for brighter times but a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
There are still many unknowns about the condition but it seems to affect adults more than than young and there appears to be a link with hormone imbalances like unusually low serotonin and melatonin levels. Serotonin is a “feel good” hormone whereas melatonin helps the body prepare for a sleep. Genetics may also play a role as individuals with a family history of SAD are more likely to experience it themselves.
What are the symptoms?
- Fatigue and lethargy (low energy levels)
- Sadness, anxiety, irritability or depression
- Changes in appetite with cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
- Weight gain
SAD is also more prevalent in women than in men, with some researchers believing that it can be up to nine times more likely for a woman to be diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder when compared to her male counterpart.
People who live in northern regions of the world (lucky Edinburgh!) are also more likely to experience symptoms of SAD because of our short days and stormy winters. Long, days often cause individuals to feel low energy levels and an overall gloomy mood.
What can we do?
- Light therapy has been proven to be one of the most effective options. Exposure to specialized lamps for around thirty minutes each day helps to rebalance your hormone levels and many people report a noticeable increase in mood and energy.
- Another means of combating SAD is through physical activity and healthy eating. Exercising regularly and providing the body with wholesome nourishment is one of the most effective ways of alleviating a depressive mood. A diet filled with a balance of whole grains, fruits and veggies, dairy, and protein sources can help the body feel its best and avoid a sluggish feeling. When it comes to physical activity, hitting the gym is not the only option. Effective and beneficial methods of exercise include meditation, yoga (regular and hot yoga), and pilates.
- A great way to beat those winter blues is by getting in touch with your body through practicing pilates, which focuses on breathing, strengthening muscle groups, balance, and correcting posture, all of which are contributors to a feel good attitude and higher energy levels.
If you feel that these options aren’t quite enough then it may be a good idea to have a chat with a healthcare professional. Edinburgh is a wonderful, caring community and there are many different ways we can help one another though these last weeks of winter.
Love and blessings,