Seasonal Affective Disorder, a simple natural remedy
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SAD in the city
Get yourself to the countryside to perk up your mood this winter…
We’ve already past the shortest day of the year on 21st December, when night seems to start just a few moments after we’ve got up! While it may not be an easy time for any of us, spare a thought for the one in three people who suffer from SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder to give it its proper term, for whom the winter months are a real drag to say the least.
Sometimes known as winter depression, SAD is a very real problem that can be debilitating for sufferers and their families.
However, there is evidence that spending time outdoors in the winter months can help to alleviate symptoms. Unfortunately, when you’re faced with the choice of staying put on the sofa with the log fire and latest box set on offer or braving the cold and dark outside, it can take a Herculean effort to go in search of your boots and woolie hat.
But ironically, this is the time when we need to do that the most. And it’s not just the extra sunlight that will help to boost our mood – it’s the very fact of being in the great outdoors.
Fresh air and exercise
The combination of both, has long been known to improve mood as well as boost our immune systems to stave off winter colds. Indeed, a growing number of studies by The Wildlife Trusts suggest that being in nature can boost our mental and physical wellbeing.
In Japan, the ancient art of ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ or ‘forest bathing’, walking in woodlands to heal body and mind, has long been practiced and is gaining popularity over here.
The mental health charity Mind is backing ecotherapy, a British equivalent to forest bathing, for people affected by depression after research from the University of Essex showed how beneficial being outside can be.
Further evidence on the benefits of being in nature can be found in writer and SAD sufferer, Horatio Clare’s, new book, ‘The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal’, which looks at the healing power of the natural world during the harshest months of the year.
Embracing the Winter Months
Living in the countryside, it’s far easier to immerse yourself in the natural world than if you live in an urban environment. Tapping into the natural rhythms of the seasons – and that means embracing winter and all the natural wonders that the season brings – can help lift the spirits no end. As Clare says, now is the time when, ‘You need to look outwards, to connect with nature and appreciate its rhythms, so you can learn to celebrate this time of year.’
So, if you’re already living in the countryside, lucky you – take note of the golden glow of the sun through the trees, the call of the robin at the bird table, the glistening of the icicles after the frost… and remember, that spring is just around the corner!
If you think you suffer from SAD, do speak to your GP or visit the NHS website for more information.
SAD symptoms include:
- a persistent low mood
- loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- feeling lethargic and sleepy during the day
- sleeping for longer than normal
- finding it hard to get up in the morning
- craving carbohydrates and gaining weight