If you live in the northern hemisphere, then you may have noticed that it’s winter. Even though the days are now lengthening in the UK, the sun (perhaps like many of us during these dark mornings) isn’t inclined to rise as early as we may like. And that may cause us to suffer from SAD (seasonally affected disorder). The changes in light levels can have quite an adverse effect on our mood. We may generally feel lethargic, tense and lacking in concentration. In short, we may just want to hunker down and re-emerge when the sun is much higher in the sky. But why is this? Well, the reduced levels of sunlight may trigger a drop in serotonin levels – serotonin being a ‘feel-good’ hormone. There may also be some interference with our melatonin levels – a hormone that can determine sleep patterns. And, overall, the low light levels disrupt our circadian cycle – our naturally recurring body rhythms during a 24-hour period. So, what to do?
- Read all about it. The UK mental health charity MIND gives much practical information on this PDF about simple changes that could make a significant difference.
- Grab any amount of sunlight by taking a walk, a cycle, or just sitting in the fresh air. Every little helps.
- Be kind to yourself. Take a massage to relieve stress and tension. And spend time with friends/family/partners who can support you when you are feeling fragile.
Finally, try to remember that the days ARE getting lighter, and spring WILL soon be here.
text © wellbeing practitioner 2013
image © jon