As we move further into the Autumn season the days become shorter and nights longer. The change in season also brings less chances to enjoy the sun and may make some of us want to hibernate until the Summer season returns. I feel it is important to use this time to not only recharge the batteries after the six-week school holiday, especially if you are a parent, but to use this time to asses how the year has gone for you. How much of your plan for the year have you achieved? What needs to be done in the last three months of the year to give you the best possible start to the next year.
http://www.netdoctor.co.uk have come up with seven ways to cope when winter effects a person’s mental health. These are:
1. Do as much physical activity as possible. Physical activity can do wonders for an individual’s mental health. Being outside, experiencing nature and being around people can be as powerful as medication for managing mental health issues.
2. Make the most of natural light. This will not only increase vitamin D levels, as sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D, but going for a walk outside will keep up your physical activity. If you work in an office try and get a desk near a window.
3. Invest in a SAD light. Seasonal Affective Disorder/ SAD is a form of depression which can lead to feelings of low mood in the winter. Some people work in offices with limited or even no access to natural light, meaning that in the winter it is dark when they leave home for work and dark when they finish work to go home. SAD lights are used as a part of light therapy which involves exposer to bright lights for up to two hours a time.
4. Keep blood sugar levels balanced. Whatever time of year it is, it is always good to keep your nutrition as balanced as possible, keeping processed sugars to a minimum.
5. Be creative. Activities such as art, photography, writing and even playing a musical instrument can help an individual to switch off from their day to day stresses, and turn a negative situation into a positive one. Joining a social group based around an individual’s interests will also help with sharing ideas and promote a better work-life balance.
6. Increase vitamin D intake. As well as keeping the bones and muscles healthy vitamin D can also help with combating mental health issues. As previously stated, natural light is an excellent source of vitamin D, other sources include supplementation and many breakfast cereals are now being fortified with vitamin D.
7. Talk. Although Western Society is seemingly more connected than ever with the help of the internet, actual human contact is reducing. If an individual has difficulty leaving the house in the winter, weather that is due to a physical impairment or a mental health issue, something as simple as a Skype call or telephone call can reduce feelings of isolation. You could be the only person an individual struggling to get out of the house in the winter has spoken to that week is you.
It is important for me to mention that we all have days when we feel fed up. This does not necessarily mean that you have SAD, however if you feel this way for extended periods of time seek medical advice.