It’s enough to make anyone SAD

  • Find out why this perennial problem could be worse this year
  • Discover simple ways to beat the winter blues
  • Could a vitamin a day be the answer?

Do you remember the Blue Peter tortoises?

Initially there was Fred, who very quickly became Freda as one of the viewers spotted that he was a she!

Then in later editions there was George (who was famous for doing a runner and being on the missing list for weeks!)

Well I now realise I envy them.

You see every year around now the BP team would bed them down for the winter – I’ve always fancied it, but no more so than this year.

All I need is..

  • One bag of straw… Make that two bags
  • One water bottle
  • One large crate

Then someone could nail me inside and I can sleep away till March or April.

On days like these that I really envy those tortoises and wish I could hibernate till the Spring.

Hopefully by then this dreadful virus will be under control (and the vaccine proven to be safe and effective), world politics will have sorted itself out and the environment will be top of everyone’s list.

Am I being a hopeless optimist or just a coward who wants to hide away?

I think it’s more of the latter, which means I need to shape up and face the world square on…

However, as I look out of my window I can see…

Well that’s the point I can’t see. It’s still semi darkness. All I can hear is the rain thudding against the windows.

And to think I’ve got to go out in this in about an hour to walk the dog who is looking expectantly at me.

It’s enough to drive me back into bed. I REALLY don’t like this weather.

The curse of the Winter Blues

Curse of the Winter Blues…’

It sounds like a cross between a horror film and a jazz track doesn’t it? A gripping tale of a young man who crosses a gypsy, turns into a werewolf every night and terrorises his village by playing the saxophone badly.

But the Winter Blues is a loose term that’s sometimes used to describe Seasonal Affective Disorder a type of winter depression that affects about 500,000 people every year, from September to April.

Although it’s the months of December, January and February that are the worst.

And in my opinion, January and February are the two months that are the hardest to get through, but this year I think it is going to affect a lot more people than ever.

Having to spend time at home with no opportunity to visit friends and family, enjoy a pint in the snug or even go dancing or play any kind of sport.

This is going to last until December.

At least December’s got Christmas, and the build up to Christmas, and if you’ve got young children it’s very, very hard not to get swept away by their excitement…

‘Dad, Dad, can I have a replica Welsh rugby kit for Christmas!’

‘Look Dad, they’ve got Winter Warmer bitter on at the pub!’

‘Dad, I can eat a tin of Roses and Lara won’t tut at me! And there’s so much sport on over the festive period!’

Yep, Christmas really is all about the children.

But even the most upbeat people can feel flat during January and February.

And for people suffering from S.A.D. it can be unbearable. In some cases, it can have a devastating effect, where they literally cannot function without having continuous medical treatment.

So is this all just a state of mind?

Surprisingly, no.

S.A.D. is triggered by a chemical imbalance caused by lack of sunlight.

This imbalance takes places in the hypothalamus – a section of the brain just behind the eyes. This section helps to control the pituitary gland, which in turn controls the thyroid, adrenal glands and sexual organs.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, the hypothalamus also helps control appetite and weight, sleep, body temperature and emotions.

So when the hypothalamus is mucked about with, your body can feel extremely off-centre, and can make the act of keeping up appearances very hard indeed…

People who suffer from S.A.D. may feel like shutting the world away. And if they do have to deal with people, they can be irritable and snappy. They become tense and stressed, they find it hard to stay awake, they tend to crave carbohydrates and sweets…

In short, they suffer from a full-blown depression which can all-too-easily be written off as a general low feeling that most of us feel when January comes, when work and school starts up again, and when things slowly get back to normal.

But there are ways to fight it…

How to turn S.A.D. into H.A.P.P.Y without turning to drugs

  • St John’s Wort has had excellent results in treating depression, because it stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain – the chemical responsible for making us feel good. 300mg of St. John’s Wort a day should help kick-start the serototin machine… but as always check this with your doctor before you give it a go.
  • Vitamin D is also a major weapon against depression. And guess what – a fair proportion of our Vitamin D production comes from sunshine. So during the winter months, your Vitamin D levels are likely to be struggling, so up your intake by eating oily fish and eggs. Plus, fortified foods like as margarine and breakfast cereals pack a fair punch of Vitamin D, so during the winter months treat yourself to the occasional bowl of your favourite cereal.
  • Upping your exercise is a great all round natural health remedy. And, for S.A.D. sufferers, exercise is well known for its ability to boost serotonin levels.

So in the rare moments between the rain clouds, try and nip out for a brisk walk. Picture a destination and walk there and back at a pace that makes you a little breathless and gets your heart pumping. If you’re unsure of how much exercise you should take, again have a chat with your doctor.

  • Mustard Flower essences are used in holistic therapies to battle despair and anxiety – and judging by a few sites I’ve seen it’s at its most popular during the dark and gloomy days of winter. Mustard flowers also form part of Dr Bach’s famous Flower Remedies.

That’s it for today. I’m off now to take my faithful companion out in the wind and rain… deep joy!