SAD November can ruin your health

  • Why this SAD month leaves me a quaking mess!
  • The seasonal issue that affects half a million people in the UK
  • How to lighten your mood this winter – click here for more details

Dear <NAME>

I swear this time of year is going to kill me one day.

You know how during fireworks season, dogs get agitated and start leaping about when the explosions begin?

That’s what I’m like, bizarrely the dog doesn’t even wake up!

Sudden loud cracks and explosions send me whistling into the air faster than the rockets themselves.

I don’t mind watching a fireworks display. I know the BANG is coming.

But kids are launching these things in urban areas from the end of October ‘til December. When I’m walking along and suddenly a rocket explodes, I leap out of my skin. And Lara promptly collapses into hysterical laughter.

Fear and humiliation in one go. Great.

If I had my way they’d ban firework sales to anyone who looks under 21.

I remember one year, I was walking to the video shop (sorry, it’s Netflix nowadays, isn’t it?) and this kid comes running round the corner holding a lit firework.

It fired off only metres in front of me, and then he was off. I was still hovering two metres above the ground by the time he disappeared.

Now… you’re going to think I’m about to tell you some remedies for anxiety, right?

Well, I’ve already covered that recently. My introduction is just my way of moaning about fireworks season.


But what I haven’t talked about is another reason some people hate this time of year. In fact, I last wrote about this in my second EVER Good Life letter, back in 2004!

The SAD problem

You know the score. The nights draw in. The temperatures drop. The mornings are dark and you just want to stay in bed.

That’s normal for November. The sudden drop in natural light causes your body to go into hibernation mode as the nights draw in.

But some people get this at extreme levels.

If you feel constantly tired, unmotivated, anxious, depressed and unable to go out, you could have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

The problem affects around 500,000 people a year in the UK. (Don’t you think it’s time we got rid of this daylight saving stuff? I think so!)

So what can you do?

Well, there’s the obvious measure. Get as much light into the home as possible. Get outside in natural light whenever you can. Anything involving light!

I’ve mentioned before about the lack of light from modern energy saving light bulbs which do nothing to give your body any form of boost – which is why I have been fitting low energy but high light bulbs for the last few years.

But did you know some changes to your diet could also help?

Fight SAD with food

  • Eat foods rich in vitamin B6. They’ve found that low levels can lead to depression. I suggest cabbage, bananas and fish. But not on the same plate, unless you’re pregnant!
  • You should also get some folic acid (vitamin B9) in your system. Researchers have found that clinically depressed patients just don’t have enough. Eat more citrus fruit, spinach and wholegrain foods which are packed with the stuff.
  • Nuts contain selenium, which was found to boost your mood by researchers at University College in Swansea. The daddy of all selenium is the mighty Brazil nut.
  • Eat chilli peppers. They contain capsaicin, which helps your brain produce endorphins – the natural mood-enhancing chemicals in your body.

Have some fun this winter

The best favour you can do yourself when winter comes is to concentrate on what you love in life.

Don’t let a little wind and rain put you off that trip to the cinema or restaurant. Don’t feel guilty about a lazy weekend snuggled in front of the television, if that’s what you crave.

And although you should add the foods I’ve mentioned to your diet, don’t starve yourself.

Constant hunger will worsen your mood.

A little light exercise can also go a long way, too. It releases endorphins (the pleasure chemical) into your brain. It helps get rid of those pesky toxins and gets your blood flowing properly to your organs and muscles.

All you need is a 20-minute brisk walk, jog, aerobics session or swim, three times a week.

Or why not try my 40 minute-a-day pub walk? That way you get a dose of natural light, some exercise AND a spot of indulgence.

Cheers me up anyway.

(“Doesn’t stop you complaining about fireworks,” says Lara, over my shoulder. Honestly!)

The experts view

The longest established and most respected of the organisations offering help and support to sufferers of SAD is the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA) who say on their website;

“Light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 per cent of diagnosed cases. That is, exposure, for up to four hours per day (average 1-2 hours) to very bright light, at least ten times the intensity of ordinary domestic lighting.

“Ordinary light bulbs and fittings are not strong enough. Average domestic or office lighting emits an intensity of 200-500 lux but the minimum dose, necessary to treat SAD is 2500 lux, The intensity of a bright summer day can be 100,000 lux!”

SADA accessed 02/11/21

It was this advice that lead me to try the low energy high luminosity bulbs I mentioned earlier as these give off 6500 lux, and they work out to be cheaper to run than standard bulbs too!