“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” – Harriet Ann Jacobs
Ah, spring. Whilst we all welcome the return of sunshine, lighter mornings and more hours in the day, some of us will feel a spring in our step health-wise too.
New research has shown that 1 in 3 people in the UK are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Often known as ‘winter depression’, SAD symptoms are most likely to peak in December, January and February.
What causes SAD?
The exact cause isn’t fully understood, but it is often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight as a result of the shorter autumn and winter days. This can wreak havoc with the body’s production of melatonin (the hormone that makes you feel sleepy), and serotonin (the hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep).
The change in light levels can also disrupt your body’s internal clock, which in turn can encourage the symptoms of SAD.
- A persistent low mood
- A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- Feeling irritable
- Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling stressed or anxious
- Becoming less sociable
- Feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
- Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
- Finding it difficult to concentrate
- An increased appetite–some people have a particular craving for foods containing lots of carbohydrates and end up gaining weight as a result
How can spring help?
The benefits of exercise are well-documented, but the longer hours in Spring present more opportunities for taking a walk in the fresh air, an evening jog or a cycle with friends to the park. Not only does this mean more exposure to sunlight, but they’re also things you can do as a family or with friends-social interaction is another great way to lift your spirits. Bonus!
It’s not just exercise that helps to alleviate symptoms. Taking time to de-stress, and practicing mindfulness, has a positive effect on SAD sufferers. Spring is blossoming with natural mood-boosters! Take time out to appreciate the little things this season has to offer: the sunshine, nature, new life, and not forgetting bank holidays.
If you think you may be affected by SAD, we recommend speaking to your GP who can advise the most appropriate treatment for you.