Summer is slowly coming to an end and the long winter nights will soon be here! “SAD is a seasonal depression, in which sufferers feel depressed during the dark winter months, and experience relief during spring and summer. The symptoms can include feeling depressed, oversleeping, craving carbohydrates and sweet foods, and also lethargy.
It is interesting that some animals hibernate during the winter and even those who don’t their activity can reduce. So it is thought that maybe SAD is a normal response to the winter months as it was helpful to our ancestors and that nowadays some people may be especially sensitive to the changes in season,” explains the UK’s leading Nutritionist and author of The Natural Health Bible for Women, Dr. Marilyn Glenville.
Don’t let the winter months get you down – Our experts are here to help, with their top mood boosting tips…
1. Switch Up Your Snacks For Bananas And Peanuts
“Tryptophan is an important amino acid for mood and depression. Your body makes serotonin (the ‘feel good’ brain chemical) from tryptophan. Tryptophan occurs naturally in foods such as dairy products, fish, bananas, dried dates, soya, almonds and peanuts. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin unlike conventional anti-depressant which doesn’t ‘supply’ serotonin but acts as SSRIs, serotonin reuptake inhibitors which keep the level of serotonin high in the brain,” explains Marilyn.
2. Don’t Rely On The Sun For Vitamin D Between October To March
“You may be more affected by SAD because of a lack of vitamin D, as it is thought of as the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Vitamin D receptors are present in your central nervous system and vitamin D can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin, which are linked to depression.”
“We need exposure to sunlight within a specific UVB spectrum for the production of vitamin D through our skin and we struggle in the UK between October to March,” adds Marilyn.
If you can, get a liquid vitamin D3 and drop it under your tongue. It will go into the blood vessels under your tongue so it is absorbed quickly, rather than having to be digested if you take a capsule. Try NHP’s Vitamin D3 Support, (£12.97, www.naturalhealthpractice.com) free of preservatives, sweeteners and is suitable for pregnant women, children and adults.
3. Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine
Having a laugh is one of the best remedies for stress and low mood – it triggers healthy changes in our body. “Many studies show that laughter boosts our energy, decreases stress hormones, improves immunity and diminishes pain. But what’s very important for anyone, who is stressed or feeling down, is that laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the natural feel-good chemicals that make us happier and relaxed,” explains Marilyn.
4. Happy Gut = Happy Mind
“We’re learning more about the importance of the ‘friendly’ bacteria and other microbes that live in our gut. Our gut is often referred to as the body’s second brain as it is teaming with billions of bacteria that help influence immunity, mood, digestion and even brainpower,” explains Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor Cassandra Barns.
Natures Plus GI Natural Powder (£33.75, www.naturesplus.co.uk) goes far beyond the many microflora, enzyme, and gut health products on the market today. The highly active microflora, whole food enzymes and prebiotic fibre deliver powerful synergistic activity to ensure total digestive wellness, reducing oxidative damage in the gut and minimising the symptoms associated with gut issues.
5. Bring The Light To You
“If you feel especially down on dark mornings, consider using a special light lamp alarm clock. The lamp gradually turns itself on (and gets brighter and brighter) to mimic natural dawn sunrise, to wake you up slowly before your alarm goes off. Research has shown people feel more positive and find it easier to get out of bed in the darker months after using this kind of device,” says Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
6. Stress Less
“When you are stressed your body releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline so the more stressed you are the more of the hormone, cortisol is released that is connected to SAD,” explains Marilyn.
Top Tip: Nutritionist Alix Woods explains how CBD oil, such as the Cannabigold classic 500MG CBD oil (RRP £29.90, www.planetorganic.com), can help to stabilise your mood, “Studies show that CBD oil has a stabilizing effect on mood as it works on the endocannabinoid system, (ECS). The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in physiological processes like sleep, pain perception, memory, mood, digestion, cognition and immunity. For its mood-enhancing effects it indirectly stimulates the 5-HT1A serotonin, ‘happy hormone’ cannabinoid receptors and exerts an anti-anxiety stable happy mood effect. The cannabinoid receptors targeted are the same receptors that anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications target but without the side effects.”
7. Anyone Up For A Gym Class On Their Lunch Break?
“Exercise could be helpful in combating the symptoms of SAD as it helps to release brain chemicals called ‘endorphins’, which help us to feel happier, more alert and calmer. It may also be helpful to exercise during the daylight hours if you suffer from SAD e.g. lunchtime rather than early morning or evening so you get the benefit of the light as well as the exercise,” advises Marilyn.