What You Can Do to Ease the Impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder
In this article from Kimberley Hayes, Chief Blogger at Public Health Alert, she explores SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and how we can minimise the impact for our better health.
Seasonal affective disorder is a serious condition that affects many of us each year. It’s a form of depression that can occupy our winter months and effectively suck the joy from our lives. Thankfully, there are things you can do to minimize its impact.
Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder
Short for seasonal affective disorder, SAD is a form of depression that corresponds with the shorter days of winter. The lack of sunlight affects our circadian rhythm, which can cause a host of problems. This disruption lowers serotonin production and changes melatonin levels. Exposure to sunlight causes our brains to produce feel-good chemicals, as well as regulate hormones that make us sleepy. SAD can manifest symptoms such as depression, oversleeping, changes in appetite, lack of energy, and even thoughts of self-harm and suicide. However, these side effects are not permanent and can be alleviated.
Now more than ever is the time to care for yourself. Self-care means something different to everyone — it could mean taking up yoga or finding time to eat well. You should ensure you get a solid eight hours of sleep, or head to the salon to get a new hairstyle. Start a meditation practice, or pick up a new hobby to give some focus to your days. Put on cheerful music and simply dance for five minutes every day. Treat yourself to a luxury spa day, either out or at home. Be the priority you deserve to be, especially at this time of year. What to Eat – The foods we eat can help us feel better and balance out our hormones. Omega-3s can increase the serotonin we produce, so add fatty fish like salmon and mackerel to your daily meals. Folate can boost dopamine, and this is obtainable by eating dark, leafy greens. Tryptophan helps regulate sleep, but it can also even out our moods. Add probiotics to keep your gut healthy, which can help decrease depression. Selenium can raise spirits as well, so eat a handful of Brazil nuts a day. If you are low on energy, have iron-heavy foods, such as lean beef or spinach. Just a few adjustments to your diet can have you feeling more like yourself.
One way to combat SAD’s influence is to replicate sunlight with light therapy. The white light helps to restore normalcy to our circadian rhythm. While light boxes come in different forms, it is important that the light be 10,000 lux to maximize its potency. Use the light box first thing in the morning for at least 30 minutes; doing so dramatically improves its function. Yes, that’s an extra 30 minutes tacked onto your morning routine, but it can truly be life-changing.
You may find your motivation for exercise to be elusive, but it can help alleviate your symptoms. Exercise releases endorphins, which help us feel better. Going outside for a brisk walk, even if the day is overcast, can give the added benefit of sunshine. It is important, however, that you exercise regularly. You are more likely to work out if you enjoy it, so do things that are fun. Yoga is a good place to start, and some studies suggest that a regular yoga practice can combat depression by helping our brains produce serotonin. The deep breathing can also raise energy levels, so if you are unsure about what exercise to try, make it yoga.
You don’t need to suffer this winter. With the right diet, light therapy, and exercise, you can overcome the symptoms. Mental health affects every area of our lives, so look after yours.
If you’d like to learn more about SAD or to read more from Kimberley you can find her at http://publichealthalert.info/
SAD is but one of a number of disorders and mental health conditions that may be affecting your workforce. Could this be something one of your employees is suffering from? You might have noticed that they display a lack of interest at work or in other activities, their diet has changed or they are irritable or drained of energy, perhaps having difficulty focusing, or trouble sleeping. In severe cases, they might even struggling with suicidal thoughts.
If you would like help addressing these or other issues please get in touch. Having information can be the difference between supporting a valuable member of staff or losing them, either through absenteeism or job change because they felt overwhelmed.
When you look after your people, they will look after your business.
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